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Side Effects Software, Toonlets Animation Team for ‘Monstro!’ Short

Toonlets Animation and Side Effects Software team up to create CG animated short ‘Monstro!’

Los Angeles -- Side Effects Software, creator of Houdini 3D Animation and VFX tools, and Toonlets Animation, a content and production studio, have announced the North American debut of Monstro! Written and directed by Christopher Romano, Monstro! is a 10-minute computer animated film starring Pili Montilla.

Romano (MFA, ArtCenter) studied painting in school, but fell into the emerging world of computer animation shortly after graduation. His first independent films appeared on MTV’s Cartoon Sushi, on retail video, and in multiple film festivals. As a commercial director at DUCK, his anime-style spot KCRW Timebomb grabbed the attention of development executives. When looking to create Monstro!, Romano turned to Side Effects and Houdini to help facilitate his vision.

“I wanted to create a film with an adorable, stop motion feel. Something that looked smaller in scale and felt nostalgic. Very tilt-shift. And I wanted the production to be top notch. Using Houdini was a no brainer,” says Romano. “I’m very familiar with Houdini’s tools and procedural workflow. Once the edit came together, I knew I could easily keep adding more – more cloth, more hair, more water and more smoke. I could do whatever I wanted.”

Executive Producer Kim Davidson, Side Effects President and co-creator of the show Monster By Mistake for YTV, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Romano. ”I’ve known Chris for many years and always admired his work and quirky sense of humor,” said Davidson. “When he showed me the Monstro! script, I immediately said, ‘let’s do it!’”

Rigging and animation; hair, cloth, water, and smoke, lighting and rendering were all done in Houdini. In fact, every shot was rendered using Houdini Mantra in one pass, with depth of field and motion blur calculated at render time. All with a small crew that never numbered more than three animators at any moment. “Houdini proved to be the perfect solution for the project,” said animator Cinthia Fujii.

“I think one of the biggest technical achievements of Monstro!, is that it’s all done with off-the-shelf tools,” says Romano. “No special wizardy. No battery of programmers. That let me focus more on story and style. I could turn around and start on another fun film tomorrow!”

Monstro! is now making its way onto the festival circuit and can be seen on Sunday, July 20 at 4:00 at the Topanga Film Festival and will include a "talk back” with Romano. Monstro! festival announcements and reminders can be found at

Monstro! Festival Dates

Topanga Film Festival

Topanga CA

4PM - July 20, 2014

Houston Comedy Film Festival

Houston TX

July 31, 2014

HollyShorts Film Festival

Hollywood CA

Aug 14-23, 2014


Atlanta GA

Aug 29 - Sept 1, 2014

ScreamFest Los Angeles

Los Angeles CA

Oct 10-19, 2014

Source: Side Effects Software

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.