Hair & Fur

Hair & Fur

Hair & Fur

Advances in Special Effects
Creating realistic hair and fur has been one of the major special effects challenges in top blockbuster films like Brave, The Hobbit and games like Tomb Raider. Take a look at some of the innovations below to see how far the technology has come in just 12 short years

2001 AKI (Final Fantasy; the spirits within) Square U.S.A
60,000 hair strands
1 second film = 36 hours to render 24 fps

2001’s Final fantasy was one of the first animated. films to reach a new level of human photo-realism. Computer-generated hair is notoriously hard to achieve. For the first time on the big screen, her hair could flip, whirl and refract light

2012 MERIDA (Brave) Pixar Animation  Studios
111, 700 Hair Strands
1 second of film = 8 minutes to render at 24 fps

Merida’s fiery red hair represented a new breakthrough in digital hair because her long, curly style was even more difficult to simulate than straight styles – each curl interacted with the other curls around it. in order to make her look both rich in detail and natural, the pixar engineers and artists had to create the hair with its own kind of physics and gravity

2012 WARG (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) Weta Digital
5,000,000 Fur Strands
1 second of film = 960 hours to render at 48 fps

WETA  digital developed proprietary software called barbershop to improve the appearance of the warg’s fur in 2012’s The Hobbit. Barbershop allows the artist to treat 3D character’s fur like the make-up artists on set: by grooming the fur with tools like  blow dryers, curling irons and hair brushes, they no longer have to manipulate individual strands of hair, likely speeding up to the process.

2013 SULLEY (monsters University) Pixar  Animations Studios
5,400,000 Fur Strands
1 second = 696 hours to render at 24 fps

Pixar took sulley’s fur to a new level in monster’s university. The complex world of creatures in this film meant that each frame took 29 hours to render on pixar’s render farm, pixar took another step forward with this film – bringing a level of detail and realism to the characters.

2013 LARA (Lara-croft: Underworld) Crystal Dynamics
21,000 hair strands
1-second of game play = 0 seconds to render at real-time

Lara Croft got a hair make-over from her iconic braid to the dynamic pony tail for the PC version of 20123’s Tomb Raider. The first real-time rendering of hair marks a breakthrough in hair simulation in games using AMD’s Tress FX. This cutting-edge software performs real-time physics simulations to move Lara’s hair to account for the effects of gravity, wind and her head movements. The result is beautifully rendered hair.

Whats Next For Hair?

Super Space Clothoids, a 2013 SIGGRAPH paper, represents a new way to model the complex shape and motion of winding strands, such as curly hair. It is clear that technological advances have allowed the simulations and rendering of computer generated hair and fur to come a long way.


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