Go Compare: Monster Bill

For Go Compare I worked on a series of advertisements at Framestore Integrated Advertising. I was responsible for the cloth simulations of Monster Bill.

Initially I took a Houdini approach for the cloth and spent quite a while trying to get the cloth simulations to consistently work. However, Houdini – I hate to admit it as a Houdini FX TD – proved quite unstable. In some shots I would get great results, then in another the simulation would explode and be unsalvageable.

Eventually I moved into Maya nCloth, which is much faster and more stable. I had never done FX work in Maya before nor had I ever done cloth, so I had to learn both a new type of effect – cloth – and a new FX package – Maya. The learning curve was steep, being sourced onto what was essentially a Maya project, as a Houdini TD, but we managed to deliver a series of ads that was of great satisfaction to the client.

Aside from having to find the right aesthetic to the actual cloth, I used a number of constraint techniques to create seams in the cloth and to cheat it into behaving as required, for example by pinning the neckline, or pinching the cloth on Monster Bill’s back to pull it tighter around his stomach.

An additional challenge was to make sure the geometry on which I had to simulate was “clean”. The animations I had to work on were highly dynamic and would have proved a challenge to any experienced cloth TD, let alone myself. Intersections are a real problem for good cloth simulations, and with such a dynamic character which literally folds in on himself from time to time, the rig has to be able to avoid self-intersecting, weight painting has to be spot on, and bodyparts should intersect each other as little as possible. Even though I had a number of tools available to “fix” intersections in the animation caches I received, the intersections were often so deep, or the rig would break, that I had to resort to extreme measures to make the mesh comply with the minimum requirements for cloth simulations.

The end result is a cheeky character we all love and hate at the same time, and a client which is very happy with their series of adverts.