SyFlex in Gatorade commercial: "Better Than Water"

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Images and clips courtesy of Method Studios


TV Commercial


Client: Gatorade
Advertising Agency: Element79Partners
Production Company: Method
Aired: April 2005
CG Creative Director: Laurent Ledru
CG Technical Supervisor: Gil Baron
3D VFX Artists: Chris Smallfield, Eric Ebling, James LeBloch, Jeremy Butler, Pasha Ivanov
Software Developer: Andrew Bell


SyFlex was used by Method to create water people(!), in a commercial for soft drink Gatorate.


In December of last year we got an email from Andrew Bell, software developer at Method, saying that they are using SyFlex "in ways you probably never intended". We got very curious, but the secret was kept until this week the Gatorade commercial finally aired and we could see what it was all about: WATER!

SyFlex spoke with French Man Laurent Ledru, who joined Method in Santa Monica five years ago:

Syflex: What was the initial brief?

Laurent: "Water People". When I heard that from the director, I got a little scared. All the reference we saw for people made of water were not to my liking, and I was wondering how can we achieve a different effect, that of fluidity and waves, really watery. Our first tests didn't really take us to where I wanted, until we thought about SyFlex!

Syflex: How did you come up with the idea of using SyFlex for your water people?

Laurent: We tried to build the characters completely with particles, we tried soft bodies, geometric deformations and different plugins, but the results were more like ice, too stiff. It felt very technical, and in terms of the workflow, we felt very limited, the technology was controlling the creative process... That's a familiar trap of CG work, one that I always insist to overcome.

We had good experience with SyFlex from the work on the Kia commercial, so we thought why not try it here, and from the very first tests, not only we got good results, we were also free to make as many manipulations as we needed.

Syflex: So what do we have here?

Laurent: The whole body of all the water characters is simulated, so all the wavy effects are SyFlex. We used other things, mainly Maya particles, for the drops and splashes.

Syflex: Can you tell us more about how this is made?

Laurent: We did the simulation on simplified models, and used the SyFlex "mimic" function a lot, to trace the motion capture. Mimic worked perfectly well! We simulated the different parts of the character: One mimic for the torso and another for the legs, etc. This way we could control how much waves we had on each part.

The whole body, clothes, face, hair, is "syFlexed", and the details are added later in the hi-res models, using Maya's wrap deformer.

Syflex: How long did it take you to do this spot? How do you like the end result?

Laurent: It took three months, including one month on pre-production, researching and testing, and developing the pipeline. I am very happy with our water people, I think they are different and original, and it is thanks to the different approach we took, deciding to work with SyFlex.

Syflex: How did SyFlex perform? What did you especially like about it?

Laurent: The best thing about SyFlex is that it is really fast and easy to handle, you get good result pretty fast, and then you have the flexibility to keep tweaking it until you get what you really wanted. It's really the best tool out there for cloth. Well, and for water!! (laughing). I had experiences with other CG software, where I just got stuck in front of the screen. With SyFlex this just didn't happen, and it was a good feeling to simply focus on what I wanted to do, instead of what the technology wants to do!

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