A visual journey into the Sci-Tech hair simulation winners

Behind the scenes of the tech from Weta Digital, ILM, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar.

This week, the Academy recognized a number of individuals at four of the biggest VFX and animation studios for their work on various hair simulation systems. They will receive Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates) for this work.

I thought it would be fun to quickly show some examples of the hair sims the subject of the awards from these studios–Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, ILM and Weta Digital. Check the examples out below, along with the official Academy description of the technology that led to the awards.

Taz Hair Simulation System from Pixar

A look at Pixar’s Taz in relation to the character Merida from ‘Brave.’

Recipients: Hayley Iben, Mark Meyer, John Anderson and Andrew Witkin.

Details: Taz is a robust, predictable and efficient mass-spring hair simulation system with novel formulations of hair shape, bending springs and hair-to-hair collisions. It has enabled Pixar artists to bring to life animated digital characters with a wide variety of stylized hair, from straight to wavy to curly.

WDAS Hair Simulation System from Walt Disney Animation Studios

Braided hairstyle for Elsa in ‘Frozen’, as crafted with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Hair Simulation System.

Recipients: Kelly Ward Hammel, Aleka McAdams, Toby Jones, Maryann Simmons and Andy Milne.

Details: The WDAS Hair Simulation System is a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films.

ILM HairCraft Dynamics System from ILM

A before and after from ‘Kong: Skull Island’ showcasing ILM’s HairCraft.

Recipient: Stephen Bowline.

Details: The ILM HairCraft Dynamics System has a physically robust hair-dynamics model that simulates hair by embedding curves in tetrahedral mesh volumes. Its unique spring-based control system has helped ILM artists create a wide range of photorealistic digital characters and digital stunt doubles.

Synapse Hair Simulation System from Weta Digital

Weta Digital’s Maurice in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’. This shows the result post-Synapse simulation.

Recipients: Niall Ryan, Christoph Sprenger and Gilles Daviet.

Details: The Synapse Hair Simulation System is a robust, predictable and highly scalable position-based dynamics system with a novel inverse parameter solver. It has helped Weta Digital artists create a wide range of photorealistic digital characters and digital stunt doubles.

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