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3/29/2018 Technology behind the magical world of Pixar | AviDesigns

Technology behind the magical world of Pixar

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I’m a big fan of all the pixar films, be it toy story, monsters university, WALL- E or up, I’ve seen all of
them. Pixar has, literally, made my childhood and teenage years really very memorable. And I was
always fascinated to explore the world behind making animated films. And moreover, anxious to look at
the engineering aspect behind animated movie making. So, I am going to discuss about the evolution
and the technology behind pixar. Pixar Animation Studios has played a very major role in making the
childhood of many children fun and fruitful. Just to give a brief introduction, Pixar Animation Studios, or
simply Pixar is an American computer animation film studio based in California. It was founded by Ed
Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith and Steve Jobs. It is best known for its CGI- animated feature films created with
PhotoRealistic RenderMan. PhotoRealistic RenderMan is the image rendering application programming
interface used to generate high quality images. The Walt Disney company now owns pixar.

The Pixar logo.

These days people don’t consider the effort that goes into making a CGI (computer-generated imagery)
movie. They tend to assume that it’s the computer that does most of the work. Once the movie is
released, people go to the theatres, watch it and have a good time. But they have no idea how much
human effort and technical knowledge is put into making such films. With the advancement of computer
graphics, Pixar has continued to upgrade its technology and keep pace with it.

A particular process called rendering is used in making CGI movies. It is the process of generating an
image from a model, by using computer programs. A scene file contains objects in a defined data
structure; it would contain geometry, viewpoint, texture, lighting, and shading information as a description
of the scene. The data contained in the scene file is then passed to a rendering program to be
processed and output the output is the CGI scene.

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These are the

basic rendering
applied to a 3D

Toy Story (1995)

A scene from Toy Story 1.

The fact that a fully animated movie could be made in 1995 was a big thing in itself. But behind all this
was a careful balancing act between the usage of images and animation, and actually getting the movie
completed within a reasonable period of time. Firstly, all the portions of an image which would require re-
rendering were identified, and then they were rendered and were retained as the animation sequence
developed. Toy story was definitely considered a revolutionary film in the history of CGI. The director of
the movie, John Lasseter, was awarded a special oscar in 1996 “for the development and inspired
application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film”.

Toy Story 2 (1999)

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A lot of effort went into scripting this film, since it was a sequel, so people had huge expectations from it.
This film can also be considered another significant technical leap. In Toy Story 2, pixar focussed more
on the characters, their behaviour and acting. Hence, they’re much more apparent in this movie.

More focus was given to characters, their acting

and looks in this film. As we can see, Woody
looks so much more clear here as compared to
toy story 1.

Monster’s Inc. (2001)

In Monter’s Inc., one of the two main characters, Sully, was entirely covered in long fine fur. It was a
challenging task for the pixar team to make the character look real and believable. Thus, they had to
concentrate on his hair, which took more time in rendering. Each single hair was rendered and then the
numerous hair were brought together to make the whole character. Perhaps, this was a very tough
movie to make. But the richness of the visuals, quality of movement and expressions of the characters in
Monster’s Inc. is striking.

Creating Sully was a complex job for pixar.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Creating a whole underwater world with aquatic plants, aquatic animals, bubbles and currents was a big
challenge for pixar. Since, it was an underwater movie, each small detail, the variations in colour and the

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