Every last detail can help make a computer-generated character seem more realistic. So a team of researchers at Cornell University have developed a simulator that can accurately recreate the sound of cloth so that the CG characters you see on screen also sound as authentic as possible.
Typically this task would be left to foley artists who recreate these sounds in a studio. But professors Doug James and Steve Marschner have developed a new approach that yields more authentic results. They started with actual recordings of the sound cloth makes when it's being dragged or crumpled, and after analyzing how a simulated piece of cloth is moving, they're able to deconstruct and re-assemble those sounds into something that matches the animation.
Because the research is still in its earliest stages it's not real-time yet. So while filmmakers can wait for these synthesized sounds to render, it's not quite ready for video games where everything has to be generated on the fly. But it's safe to assume that one day you'll be blown away by how realistic Mario's overalls sound. [Cornell University via Engadget via PhysOrg]