Pixar shorts

Pixar is a worldwide known computer animation studio based in California. They have created many of the biggest films of the recent years as well as many animated shorts of many different styles. Pixar’s first feature film was Toy Story, released back in 1995 and their latest film being Finding Dory on June 17 2016, toy story almost did happen as Disney didn’t think the story worked well with 3D so they had to re-work the whole script. They use several different software, programs, and processes behind the scenes. Their most distinguished use of technology is computers that allow them to design 3D animation and a much faster scale now.

Job Roles:

There are many job roles when making a hit animated film or when making an animated short but each role is just as important as the other let’s start with the beginning of the process. The story idea/script, a Pixar employee would pitch their idea to the other members of the development team, the real challenge they say is to get the audience to believe in the idea and see the possibilities in it. Text treatment, this is a short document that summarizes the main story and sometimes the same idea will be developed on in order to find the right balance between ideas and after that comes the script. Storyboards, these are a hand drawn version of the story as a sort of blueprint for the action and dialogue. Each storyboard artist receives script pages and outline of the characters emotional changes seen through actions, draw them out then pitch it to the director. Voice actors and temporary actors, the temp actors perform for the Pixar artists in the storyboard reels later on the push for professionals. Reels, this is a video that allows the cleaned-up storyboard sequence to stand alone. Colour concepts, this is the start of the development into illustrating world which digs into what they characters and light etc. Models, Pixar mainly used proprietary animation software to create 3-dimensional versions of the characters. Using the art departments model packet (a set of informational drawings). The base models wont have model texture or any surface colour all you will see is the objects skeleton, lings and outlines of cubes, blocks and spheres that have constructed it this is called wireframe. Sets, this is where the films story takes place, once these are built in a 3D software and dressed up to the directors vision then the environment is realised and characters can be placed on it. Shots, this is the translation of three dimensional scenes the crew sets out virtual cameras to create shots that capture the emotion and story of each scene. Animation, Using Pixar’s animation software they choreograph the movements and facial expressions in each scene, the computer makes an in-between frames so the animators don’t have to do it frame by frame (I talk about this more later). Shade, the characters and props are given surface texture like metal, fabric, glass etc. Lighting, digital light is in every scene in the same way as stage lighting, to fill a room and give the scene ambience and mood. Rendering, is the translation of all information that makes up every shot, Pixar uses render man (I talk about it later) it takes every frames takes all its digital information like lighting, textures and assembles them together. This can take a long time. Final touches and musical score, Editors oversee the completion of the musical score and other sound effects and special effects.


Pixar use a lot of in house programes one is called Fizt(Physical tool). This program was developed by David Baraff and Andy Witkin from Pixar animations studios to speed up the process the production of special effects around scenes and make the effects used to appear more realistic, incorporated physics and the ability to control the behavior of mesh objects in the virtual animation. The use for one of these programs is to simulate physics around the millions of hairs around some of the monsters bodies and reduce the time of creation process for such a task.As before this kind of things were hard or close to impossible to recreate because of the time would be spent while animating batches of hair on top of the characters movement and increasing the render time for the final processes.

One of the add-ons for the program is that Pixar as of the creation of the software were able to animate all different types of clothing , fur and other materials of their choosing without incorporating animators having to manually animate every little detail and decrease the time used for animating , speeding up the production time in the process. This particularly impressed me.

Another magoure program that is mainly used to make models with is Autodesk Maya. This program is widely used among Pixar employees and other game developers or animators. organic models (nurbs), texture , animate, create UV mapping and so on.Rigging and animations are done in a in-house built software called Marionette or Menv. As this program was released since 1998 Pixar has most likely used this program ever since then to make at least basic models for their animators to work on while higher quality meshes are later made and added into the final product.Many movies have been made with Maya for example “The Matrix” , “Final Fantasy:The Spirit Within” , Pixar , Disney and Dreamwork movie names are also in the list as it proves that the program has been quickly added to every animators and creators list of programs to know. Program itself is able to do more than mesh high or low poly models but also to sculpt


When making an 3D animation it is important to know what kinematics are and the difference between them. There are two main differences between them and it is very simple- Forward Kinematics is when a 3D robot computes the position of an End-Effector depending on the joint parameters, whereas Inverse Kinematics is when an animator manually maps out the final position on an End-Effector. An example of this would be the bending of a leg, forward kinematics would bend the knee and flatten the foot, whereas inverse could bend the foot backwards or sideways, depending on the animators choice. An End-Effector is the end point of an object, for example the tips on a finger on a hand or the toes of a foot, something that is design to interact with the space/ environment around it.

3D animation is a common design choice in mainstream media companies like Disney and Pixar, for example, have so many movies in 3D but from time to time Disney/Pixar get companies whether it’s in the house or out of to do short animations following a small story. There have been many which I would guess you have heard of, Birds, night and day and jack jack attacks and this is just a few but for this talk, I will be talking about paperman an oscar winning short film.

In this animation, the use a mix of old fashioned drawing with CG moving together add motion capture to give the effect of 2D when in fact the entire digital 3D film is just behind it. The technique uses traditional hand-drawn 2D animation by carrying the information with the 3D CG using a program dubbed “Meander” created by Eric Daniels. As they began the process to make this the first decided to find a story and a theme/era to match, for example, the era of paperman was based in the 1950s the golden era of the working man a town starting to burst with life and to make the town feel magical. The story is based of the reality of living in the city and about acquaintances, bringing them together in a way.

2D animation has, for some time now, taken a backseat to 3D computer graphics but John Kahrs has stated that although he does not believe they are ready to do a feature length film using the technique that it is a direction that they are eventually going to move toward and that Disney believes there is a strong future ahead for this technology.


The process of the development of this animated short would always start up with the drawing and character design, showing the characters with every emotion. But through these drawings it gave the idea to create a 3D animation but with the style of 2D. The paper texture advected by the motion vectors per-element gives a temporally coherent texture to line and paint. Pre vis is used a lot within the animated scene to help build the scene and break down the the story into a conceivable idea, they used compute tangents at cylindrical cross-sections relative to the viewpoint then extending the silhouettes along normal gives the characters more detail and to get the movement of the characters they used motion capture, in the software they used motion vectors per-vertex to convert the real acting to the animated character, then they convert the image-space and rendered per-pixel to detail for further the silhouette extension. Motion copy and paste, curves drawn and selected on the first frame then curves motion pasted onto the last frame automatically advected by motion vectors and the frames in-between are automatically drawn, so its gives a clean movement of a object and character by only using two frames. The in-between fames are created by automatically computing correspondences, advecting strokes via motion vectors and geometrically blending the corresponding strokes, this was done using a custom 2D paint software called Final line.

“Introducing a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director John Kahrs takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with the Oscar®-nominated short, “Paperman.” Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him. Created by a small, innovative team working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Paperman” pushes the animation medium in an exciting new direction.”



On the release of ‘The Incredibles’, there is a scene where early on Mrs. Incredible is talking Kari, the babysitter, she is so calm about being the babysitter but later on Mrs. Incredible is listening to voicemails from Kari now she isn’t calm but panicking about how hard it is to look after Jack Jack, the family baby. The short Pixar film ‘Jack-Jack Attack’ shows Jack’s powers through the destruction of his home and the babysitter’s reaction to it, it shows what happens to non-supers after having dealt with metahumans.


I looked at the different media as well was the different stages of the creation of Jack  Jack Attack and The Incredibles, as they used the same process for making Jack Jack attack as the did in the Incredibles. The characters were actually based off real-life people relating to one of the main designers Jason Lee, Kari was based on his niece and Jack Jack was based on his own son, they were created by tag team character designers Teddy Newton and Tony Fucile.In monsters Inc and presto they used clay to model the characters, they did the same in this to get the same feel. The rest of the character design was were created in Renderman for the original film. This short was released after the film in 2005 alongside the DVD as a special feature.  However to figure out the plot and script throughout the short, the team of Pixar writers (Mark Andrews, Rob Gibbs, Teddy Newton and Bosco Ng) who found it ‘much easier as they only had to work with Kari and Jack Jack with the cameo appearance of Syndrome (voiced by Jason Lee) and the investigator Rick Dicker (voiced by Bud Luckey).


To create this animated film involved multiple, carefully planned stages much like another animated movie or short. First, the story is written and preliminary storyboards are drawn to help tell the story visually in the earliest stages. The storyboards are then turned into a form of early animation, these are known as reels or animatics, this allows the filmmakers to fine-tune the sequences. Art department work hard to illustrate every last physical detail of the individual characters and the entire universe in which they exist while also brainstorming the design of virtual sets, props, buildings, surfaces, and color palettes. Once the story and look of the film are decided upon, actors are brought in to record the voice performances giving the characters distinct personalities, which are, in turn, used to inspire the rest of the creative process. They like most other companies use pre vis to make a concept for the overall scene to get an idea of what its going to be.

Pixar used a software called Renderman, this software is a rendering platform they have been using for 20 years. One of the first things Pixar do to make a 3D animation is they sculpt the characters out of clay as its much easier to work with something you can hold and is the shape you wanted rather than a drawing, this also helps the CGI process as you can physically see it. Pixar does this a lot, they did this when working on ‘Inside Out, as well as drawing characters and scenes out using pen and paper. They don’t add the fine detail like hair until after the scenes have been set up and worked out. For observing the first animatic, Pixar had drawn over 150 frames just for this 5-minute sketch, and this doesn’t include the other frames created when animating the figures in Renderman. Additionally throughout the video the character shape changes due to experimenting with what shape heads portray a certain character style.


Although the these are both 3D animation they used widely different techniques and styles to get to their final product. For example Paper Man uses a wide range of new programs and software to get a smooth feel and a overall 2D effect using fine line as their primary software to achieve this feel. On the other hand the older animated movie/short the incredibles uses a software called render man as its the wild used software by pixar and what they use for their movies.  Although they’re both made by the same cumpany they use different software to achieve their goal, their pre production methods are around the same they both get an abundance of sketches/storyboards to get the story laid out and how they want the whole story goes.

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