The Folding Stuff

June 25, 2014

To represent a resurgent economy, this BBC designer created a booming paper town


By Steve Jarratt


To create the unfolding effect Sophia turned to CINEMA 4D's Cloth tag: when applied to a mesh, the underlying structure becomes flexible, acting like fabric and, under the right circumstances, can be made to collapse completely.


Each object was built using a low-poly mesh, and then Sophia used the Knife tool to create some random segments. "Because I was going for the unfolded paper feel, all the geometry was triangulated and deliberately lacked detail," she says. "I changed all default Phong Angles to zero for that overall hard-edged look."


"Once I could see a pattern of the actual slices that worked, I kept the cuts consistent throughout," she explains. "I used a Cloth Simulation tag on the object and a disc for the floor that had a Cloth Collider Simulation tag applied. I played around with the keyframes on the Cloth tag and Gravity forces until I got the movement I was after."


Naturally the simulation didn't always go as Sophia expected: "I did encounter several funny moments when objects would appear desperately trying hard to collapse in one go, only ending up lopped sideways bobbing off the ground like a bouncy castle. Other times if I overlooked the gravity, objects would fall in slow motion or fly away!"


When the collapsing movement looked right, the animation was cached to disc. But Sophia then needed a way to convert the information into keyframes so she could edit it. For this she turned to a little-known tool called Cappucino, which captures mouse input in real-time, but which will also record point-level animation (PLA).


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