'Star Wars' animator discusses fabric simulation

With CG characters abounding at Siggraph, it’s not surprising that virtual clothing is a hot topic, represented by several proprietary strategies. Sony Imageworks is showing work from both “Spider-Man” and “Stuart Little 2” that demonstrate SPI’s approach to simulating believable fabrics. As “Stuart’s” animation director Eric Armstrong says, “Cloth is being created by simulation software that’s continuing to improve.”

Fabric simulation software will also be the focus of Industrial Light & Magic’s sketch “How to Dress Like a Jedi.” As “Star Wars” animation director Rob Coleman notes, “We spent months brainstorming to figure out how to cut and drape digital garments. We handled lots of multilayered, elaborate clothes, which moved in different ways depending upon whether they’re leather or silk. And because we have live actors in real clothes standing beside our digital actors, we had to maintain absolute realism. With the clothes in Yoda’s fight sequence especially, we definitely broke new ground.”

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