|sent from: London, UK. destination: San Francisco, California, USA|
Of the many specialities in modern computer generated visual effects in movies, digital clothing is the one I’ve ended up with.
Think of all the things you might expect on a regular film set; actors, wardrobe, make-up, lighting, sets. All of those have equivalents in the digital world, so I’m someone who takes care of the actors’ wardrobe, that the design works for the characters, that it has the right behaviour, that the actors can move and do what’s expected of them in the scenes, that their robes don’t get wrapped around their heads during a stunt, that they look nicely arranged when they’re sitting at a table or an armchair or in their big death scene.
That’s clothing simulation, or, as it’s most commonly referred to, clothsim.
I’ve not always had the easiest relationship with it; it can be frustrating and misunderstood, sandwiched uneasily between animation and lighting, tangled in the web of rigging and modeling.
We’ve broken up a couple of times over the last decade, I scream and yell and throw clothsim out to the curb, tell it we’re through. Then at a friend’s party we meet, we get drunk, one thing leads to another, yadda yadda yadda, next thing I’m making it breakfast and asking it why it has to be so slow and wont tell me what its thinking, we’re hopelessly entwined again. When it works, it adds life and character to your virtual creations, it’s exhilarating.
But it’s difficult. Everything about it is difficult. That’s why producers hate us, we can never give them a simple straight answer to their favourite question – “how long is that going to take?” We shrug, and say, “Maybe an hour. Maybe a week. It’s tough because, see, they’ve animated this so the arm goes through the body and .. hey, wait, come back!”
And so it goes.