LOS ANGELES: July 11, 2014 - Side Effects Software, creator of Houdini 3D Animation and VFX tools, and Toonlets Animation, a content and production studio, are pleased to announce the North American debut of MONSTRO! Written and directed by Christopher Romano, MONSTRO! is a 10 minute, computer animated film starring Pili Montilla.

“MONSTRO! is horror story. A love story. A ribald comedy!”

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.

Updated with Full Short!

“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.”

“A rickety scientific expedition ventures down the Amazon River

to a dark lagoon in search of a mythic Creature...”

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 3 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! ©2014 Christopher Romano and Side Effects Software. All Rights Reserved.

Christopher Romano

Pili Montilla

Pili Montilla is an EMMY nominated TV host, actress, and producer. Her most recent projects include the successful comedy 200 Cartas and the thriller Desconocidos.

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
DragonCon Atlanta GA Aug 29 - Sept 1, 2014
ScreamFest Los Angeles Los Angeles CA Oct 10-19, 2014


  Learn More Learn More
  Tutorials Gallery Demo Reels Companion Products