Each Pixar film has brought with it new chal­lenges and in­no­va­tions

3D World - - FEATURE -

A Bug’s Life (1998)

Abug’slife brought with it more than talk­ing Culi­ci­dae and Hemiptera. A new au­to­matic ran­domis­ing Ant Gen­er­a­tor soft­ware was cre­ated to gen­er­ate the crowd ants. This was so no two looked the same. This soft­ware was based off par­ti­cle sys­tems that could also gen­er­ate snow and wisps of smoke. Com­bined with rigid body an­i­ma­tion for each char­ac­ter, this tech­nique was des­tined to be crawl­ing over all their films in fu­ture.

Mon­sters Inc. (2001)

Sul­ley was a big blue mon­ster with a thick coat of fur. Two mil­lion hairs had to be cor­ralled and lit in or­der for his char­ac­ter to look real, and the an­swer was Fitz. This new sim­u­la­tion soft­ware would mimic physics in an­i­ma­tion with re­spect to fine hair, fire and was used ex­ten­sively for the scene where Sul­ley crashes a sled out in the snow, as well as to move the one T-shirt on the cute lit­tle girl, Boo.

Find­ing Nemo (2003)

Par­ti­cle physics in ef­fects were in full colour for the ma­jes­tic coral reef se­quences in this iconic an­i­mated film. Ren­der­ing a reef be­came even more of a chal­lenge when light­ing and gen­er­at­ing the look of sub­merged wa­ter. The light­ing de­part­ment ex­per­i­mented with re­frac­tion and repli­cat­ing ‘caus­tic lights’ on the sea floor. The wet look above wa­ter was im­por­tant too, given Nemo’s ad­ven­tures.

The In­cred­i­bles (2004)

With the first fully hu­man cast, the phys­i­cal­ity of hu­man ac­tiv­ity be­came the fo­cus of Pixar for The

In­cred­i­bles. Sub­sur­face scat­ter­ing was the new key el­e­ment. Skin, hair, cloth­ing and anatomy were again on the fore­ground but smoke, wa­ter, fire and ex­plo­sions were re­quired as well. Su­per­vis­ing TD Rick Sayre said there was “no hardest thing” in the movie be­cause ev­ery­thing was the hardest. Vi­o­let’s hair was deemed vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for most of the pro­duc­tion time but ul­ti­mately was tamed into sub­mis­sion.

Cars (2006)

Perfecting lip sync from a car’s grille and eye emo­tion on a wind­screen were just some of the chal­lenges for the Cars fran­chise. Af­ter top­ping this, the Pixar artists were onto mak­ing th­ese cars stretch and squeeze while still re­sem­bling par­tic­u­lar car mod­els. The sim­u­la­tion de­part­ment up­graded Ren­der­man’s ray-trac­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and helped light­ing de­ter­mine the path of dif­fer­ent lights, and then ren­der the most im­pres­sive duco shine on the ve­hi­cles.

Rata­touille (2007)

Af­ter Dis­ney bought Pixar, they all learned how to en­sure that an­i­mated food looked good enough to eat. Huge upgrades to Pixar’s Ren­der­man and the in-house light­ing soft­ware were in­sti­gated. Wide­spread use of sub­sur­face scat­ter­ing tech­niques were to make the many dishes, veg­eta­bles and gen­eral kitchen at­mos­phere more ap­peal­ing.

UP (2009)

This was the first Pixar movie re­leased in 3D. New soft­ware was cre­ated to help ren­der out the clothes el­e­ment of this movie, as well as the feath­ers on the gi­ant trop­i­cal bird. An­other chal­lenge in

UP were the 20,000 bal­loons, each colour­ful ball mix­ing and work­ing with the sev­eral bal­loons around it. Pixar’s phys­i­cal sim­u­la­tor, called ODE, is pro­ce­dural an­i­ma­tion on steroids.

Wall•e (2008)

For sci-fi hit Wall · E, they even brought in Ap­ple’s Jonathan Ive to de­sign EVE. A pro­pri­etary build-a-bot plat­form was adopted to cre­ate the wide ar­ray of in­ci­den­tal robots shown as char­ac­ters through­out the movie. This helped to block out robots in count­less vari­a­tions. Par­ti­cle sim­u­la­tion soft­ware was adapted and used ex­ten­sively to also cre­ate the junk tow­ers on Earth, and the fire ex­tin­guisher episode in space.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

When they started work on Toys­tory

3, the pro­duc­tion team checked on the orig­i­nal film’s files and couldn’t edit any of them. So they had to re­make them all from scratch. They built them bet­ter, sharper and even more real. Check the tech on the con­veyor belt se­quence for in­stance. Garbage bags, tens of thou­sands of small pieces of plas­tic, and the whole cast of char­ac­ters, all pro­ce­du­rally an­i­mated en masse, in the dusty garbage dump.

BRAVE (2012)

Merida’s hair was a key player in this very unique pro­duc­tion. This was the start of Pixar prov­ing the use of the en­gine used to cre­ate Vi­o­let’s hair in

Thein­cred­i­bles. Cre­ated specif­i­cally for Merida was the Taz soft­ware which al­lowed a strand of hair to curl and bounce around in 3D space, and to in­ter­act with oth­ers close by, then be coloured, lit and ren­dered.

Coco (2017)

Pixar artists have used the Presto an­i­ma­tion sys­tem since de­but­ing it for Brave in 2012, and im­prove­ments re­alised for Coco al­lowed the most im­pres­sive skele­tal crowd to sing. To­gether with the im­mense light­ing chal­lenge that is night-time in the stun­ning Land of the Dead dur­ing fes­ti­val time, the colour and move­ment is com­plete.

In­cred­i­bles 2 (2018)

Uni­ver­sal Scene De­scrip­tion was all over this it­er­a­tion of the In­cred­i­bles world. With­out be­ing able to run the char­ac­ters in sev­eral de­part­ments con­cur­rently, those we spoke to say In­cred­i­bles2 would not have been pos­si­ble. Be­ing able to tweak the an­i­ma­tion and lip synch on a char­ac­ter and know at the same time the light­ing and look of ev­ery­thing is up­dated, means a lot while in pro­duc­tion.

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