Master­class

trans­form your ren­ders and go in­side in­cred­i­bles 2

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Be­fore Pixar’s 2004 hit, The In­cred­i­bles, the an­i­ma­tion stu­dio had yet to un­der­take a project so full of stylised CG hu­man char­ac­ters – each with skin, hair and cloth to sim­u­late. Not only that, these char­ac­ters, as dreamed up by direc­tor Brad Bird, had su­per­pow­ers, and they tra­versed a wide ar­ray of lo­ca­tions and en­vi­ron­ments.

But such is Pixar’s ap­proach to con­quer­ing both the art and tech­nol­ogy of an­i­ma­tion that the prob­lem of CG hu­mans on that film was of course over­come. And when Bird re­turned for his lat­est out­ing with In­cred­i­bles 2, all of Pixar’s tech­no­log­i­cal leaps and bounds since 2004, in­clud­ing its new ap­proach to path traced ren­der­ing, were now avail­able to the direc­tor for a film even larger in scope than the first.

“IT FEELS LIKE THERE’S DAN­GER, THAT THE CHAR­AC­TERS AREN’T WEIGHTLESS, THAT THERE’S CON­SE­QUENCES TO AC­TIONS”

The scope of In­cred­i­bles 2

Re­sum­ing where The In­cred­i­bles left off, In­cred­i­bles 2 fol­lows the Parr fam­ily, whose su­per­pow­ers have be­come largely un­used in an en­vi­ron­ment where ‘su­pers’ are not so wel­come any­more. While He­len (aka elasti­girl) con­tin­ues to fight crime, her hus­band Bob (Mr in­cred­i­ble) stays at home to care for the chil­dren, Vi­o­let, Dash and Jack-jack.

Ul­ti­mately, the Parrs are called upon to bat­tle a new vil­lain, the Screenslaver.

This meant Pixar would again need to cater for a va­ri­ety of CG hu­mans and an ar­ray of thrilling ac­tion scenes. And they needed to do it fast – the film’s orig­i­nal re­lease date in 2019 was moved up a year ear­lier.

“The sin­gle big­gest challenge on In­cred­i­bles 2 was that there was no sin­gle big­gest challenge,” says Pixar su­per­vis­ing tech­ni­cal direc­tor Rick Sayre. “The big­gest challenge was one of scope, that we were go­ing to have to do a sig­nif­i­cant amount of work across all dis­ci­plines and de­part­ments, in not a whole lot of time.”

char­ac­ter con­sid­er­a­tions Although Pixar has cer­tainly con­quered vir­tual hu­mans in sev­eral projects, the char­ac­ters in In­cred­i­bles 2 re­mained some­what stylised (as they had done in the first film). Their pro­por­tions and abil­i­ties are ex­ag­ger­ated – re­mem­ber, these are superheroes – but this as­pect still proved to be a sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cle for the stu­dio.

“There is this challenge of hav­ing shapes that may not be phys­i­cal, but still mak­ing them feel fa­mil­iar,” says Sayre. “i think for Brad, a big as­pect of that was mak­ing things feel real, even if you don’t recog­nise all of the body pro­por­tions as be­ing ex­actly a hu­man or an ‘un­canny’ hu­man. What we’re try­ing to estab­lish is that there are stakes. it feels like there’s dan­ger, that the char­ac­ters aren’t weightless, that there’s con­se­quences to ac­tions.”

“Of­ten those chal­lenges sur­face as neg­a­tive re­sults,” con­tin­ues Sayre. “You imagine a char­ac­ter with ex­actly Bob Parr’s pro­por­tions, well, what would that look like? Do you im­me­di­ately think that that per­son should be rushed to the hos­pi­tal? That’s the challenge of styli­sa­tion. But one of the most com­ple­men­tary things out of that, when we got to the point where we had the char­ac­ters up in the new sys­tem and we’re look­ing at them, was that both Brad and su­per­vis­ing an­i­ma­tor Tony Fu­cile have said that this felt like what they wanted the char­ac­ters to be like all along.”

Per­haps the big­gest change af­fect­ing the char­ac­ters since the first In­cred­i­bles is a gen­eral in­dus­try move­ment to­wards ap­proach­ing things in a phys­i­cally based way. “This isn’t only in terms of light­ing and ren­der­ing, but also in sim­u­la­tion and de­sign,” notes Sayre. “Com­pared

bob Parr (Mr In­cred­i­ble) be­comes the stay-at-home dad in In­cred­i­bles 2

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