Replicating the texture and flow of an animated character’s ’do is a challenge for artists, which is why Eitan Grinspun and a team of students at Columbia University are building programs that give computer-generated hair more pop. His group has coded certain physics properties, such as Newton’s law, into algorithms that simulate the natural collisions large amounts of hair tend to create. But it’s not all ones and zeros: He works side by side with the artists, which he says helps "support all the emotionality of a character."
His technologies have been tapped for big-name projects, including Tangled and The Hobbit, but Grinspun has larger ambitions: He wants to find a better way for curly hair to retain its on-screen groom. Of no surprise, Grinspun himself sports a curly mane.
[Everett Collection (Tangled)]