Well, I recently watched the animated film Legends of the Guardians/The Owls of Ga’Hoole by non-other than my favorite animation studion Animal Logic. Very good animation and I strongly recommend seeing it with your kids or something… Anyway, they pull of doing the feathers on the owls absolutely flawlessly and I was wondering if anyone had any speculation on how they did them. A screenshot of the feathers is here.
From the SIGGRAPH website: “Animal Logic developed a procedural feathering pipeline, Quill, that allows a procedural representation of feathers with automatic de-intersection, animation, character effects, and dynamics, and rendered with extensive level-of-detail support.”
Most studios have proprietary systems for creating feathers. You can create feathers in Blender by combining a particle instancer with hair particles, setting the feather geometry to “Create Along Paths.” This lacks a considerable amount of control though. I started a feather system in Houdini with the help of a friend. That’s probably the only program that will be able to create a high-level feather system without having to rely on any scripting. I have seen several scripts for Maya and Softimage, ad maybe others, that work using particle instancing, sans path deformation. I think Shave and Haircut can do this sort of effect as well.
Anyways, I’m blabbing. The feather system in that movie was impressive.