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Watch Pixar’s New, Kinda Freaky Animation Technique

“Stable neo-Hookean flesh simulation” makes animated bodies look more real.

by Samantha Cole
Mar 30 2018, 4:52pm

Screenshot via Vimeo

Watching a 3D-model of a disembodied hand wiggle and flex is weirdly satisfying. Pixar animators developed a novel way to realistically animate flesh and muscle, and demonstrated their techniques using a skeleton hand, a very ripped torso, and various other spooky, disembodied parts.

The animators, Breannan Smith, Fernando de Goes, and Theodore Kim, call their approach “Stable Neo-Hookean Flesh Simulation.” The neo-Hookean model is, from what I can gather from various scholarly articles and the incredibly complex Wikipedia page on the subject, a combination of very intense algebraic equations that explain the mechanics of movement as it relates to volume. I could be wrong about this, don’t send me emails. I'm just a fan of awesome-looking 3D slugs, rocks, and now, flesh.

Applying the neo-Hookean model to their animations results in movement without the cartoonish stretching and folding that happens when you manipulate objects in animation. We’ve come a long way since the GoldenEye 007 hand days.

Maybe it’s the buffness of the model they used, but this is looking good for Incredibles II that’s set to release in June. If they use this new technique, Elastigirl’s stretchiness is gonna get an upgrade, along with Mr. Incredible’s flexing.