Computing That Serves

Simulating Rapunzel’s Hair in Disney’s "Tangled"


Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 11:00am


Kelly Ward
Senior Software Engineer
Walt Disney Animation Studios.


Mike Jones

Hair simulation is known to be a complex problem in animation. In Walt Disney Animation Studio's recent feature film “Tangled,” one of the main characters, Rapunzel, has 70 feet of loosely flowing hair that presented many unique challenges in simulation. This talk presents several key techniques used for simulating Rapunzel's hair. The techniques range from methods to improve the run-time efficiency of the simulations to achieving the desired art direction of the hair.


Kelly Ward is currently a senior software engineer at Walt Disney Animation Studios. She most recently worked on development of the hair simulation software used to animate the thousands of strands of hair found on the characters in the film Tangled. Born in Garden City, New York, Ward joined Disney Animation in 2005 and has worked on films such as Meet the Robinsons and Bolt. Prior to joining Disney Animation, she worked as a software applications intern at Rhythm and Hues, and a technical marketing engineer intern at Intel. Ward attended Trinity College in Harford, CT, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in physics and computer science, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in computer science where her dissertation topic was on hair simulation.