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Here's what goes into making the popular Pixar films

Posted at 2:51 PM, Oct 16, 2019

DENVER, Colo. – Since 1995, films like “Toy Story” have become a staple in homes around the world, but what goes into making one film is more than you could imagine. It’s not just art. Science and technology play a big role.

Ka-Chun Yu is a curator for the traveling Pixar exhibit being housed at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

“I think when people hear a movie is made using a computer you push a button and something magical happens where the movie pops out on the other end,” said Yu. “But it actually takes an immense amount of work to make an animated film.”

There are story boards, modeling and rigging. With rigging it allows animators to move characters’ body parts more freely and make them more realistic.

Another part of the pipeline is simulation.

“In ‘Brave,’ Merida’s hair took a lot of work in order to make it look realistic, having it looking springy but not so unrealistic that it did weird things when they animated it.”

Lighting is also a big part. It creates mood and determines day or night. However, in the movie “Finding Nemo,” different lighting colors like yellow were used to make the fish appear to be swimming closer to the surface. Using dark blue makes it look like deep water.

Then, there is rendering. In the movie “Coco,” a single frame could take up to 89 hours to render.

“The reason it takes so long is partly because of all the lights involved, so you are looking at all the lights bouncing off all the characters and reaching the virtual camera,” said Yu.

We learned the production of an animated film can take anywhere between 6 to 18 months, but the entire movie from start to finish can take 2 to 7 years to make. A traditional Hollywood film on average takes less than 2 years to complete.

The next Pixar movie to hit theaters will be “Onward.” It’s set to be released in March 2020. Now, you will be able to appreciate how it all comes to life.