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Sony "Tumble"

May 2008

Role: Rigging and FX


VFX: The Mill

Director: Andrew Douglas

Production Company: Anonymous Content LA

Agency: 180 LA

The concept for this spot was that the Sony hardware was made up of the same "DNA". To illustrate this, various Sony products would disassemble, fly through the air, and reassemble into another product. For some objects like the HDTV, there could be thousands of objects.

Animating by hand would have been prohibitive so I wrote scripts in XSI to let the animators procedurally animate all the pieces. See the bottom of this page for more details.

I also had fun doing a few snow interaction elements for some of the shots in XSI's ICE.

Sony Tumble Rig


I've included some screenshots of the animation tool I wrote for this job. It shows just how easy it was to potentially animate many objects simultaneously with a single slider, while still retaining control. Even though this was done in XSI back in 2008, the same principals would still be apply and be useful today.

This first image shows how the rig was created. You selected a model, the number of animation waypoints, and it would set it up for you automatically.


An animation waypoint would be represented by a disc which the animator could place within their scene. Every waypoint would show the target position that each piece would pass through.

The timing distribution for each piece could be easily adjusted using curves in the rig settings. You had control over timing offset and duration, as shown below:


Once the basic values were set up, you could hit play and the pieces would automatically animate to their end position. The model itself could be animated in any way, and the pieces would adapt to the final animated positions and rotations.

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