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Overview of Pixar in a box

Discover Pixar in a Box, a Pixar and Khan Academy collaboration that teaches the art and science behind Pixar movies. Explore the filmmaking process, from storyboarding to rendering, and learn how creativity and technical skills combine to bring animated films to life.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user scotthmoss
    At we learn there are more than 200-lights in that particular shot I have learned about 3-point lighting, but how does one use more than 200?
    (191 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user lew_ethan
      Yes. In a primarily openGL world, a lot of lights are required to make a scene look good. This is because in the old school lighting algorithms, light rays are only allowed TO BOUNCE ONCE. Thus, to simulate things like reflective light, more lamps are added. As Brian mentioned, often one needs to control different light rays (diffuse, shadow, specular, transparent) requiring even more lights.

      To expound on Brian's statement, we now live in a world of physically-based rendering, where light can bounce potentially n times with global illumination. Thus, fewer lights are required to simulate reality. Also, we now use HDRI's (high dynamic range imagery), which has luminescence density info baked into it, so the realism we can achieve is astonishing. Pixar reflects this when you purchase its engine Renderman, containing both old-school Reyes and physically-based RIS.
      (193 votes)
  • starky sapling style avatar for user naomi camiller
    why do you need to know math to make movies
    (87 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Ian Lee Gonzales
      Math is used primarily to calculate how everything moves and behaves in animation movies. back in the old days when everything is drawn by hand, they need to make if frame by frame so it takes time. With computers, they simply just program how every animatiion behaves
      (170 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user rvaradh1
    What kind of degree or specific training does one need in order to work for Pixar? Are there technical schools that prepare you for animation movie industry?
    (77 votes)
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    • duskpin tree style avatar for user Christa Anish
      a Bachelor’s Degree in Design or Animation will give you an edge, learning computer programming/ 3d animation will also be beneficial.Academy of Art University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, and California College of the Arts are good schools for training to go into pixar.
      (3 votes)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user javari jones
    How many pixels are in a movie
    (24 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Irving Torres
    This video was amazing. At we learn about the render farm and we see that a single frame takes up to 24 hours to render. Is this the current speed or is it steadily increasing now that we have super computers and enormous processing power?
    (26 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Cody Strong
      I just did the math, and for a 90 minute film, at 1 frame rendered per 24 hours, and 24 frames per second, it would take 3,110,400 hours to render. That's also the same as 129,000 days or 355 years...
      Edit: It now occurs to me that this is only true if the movie is rendered one frame at a time. It is very possible (and likely) that multiple frames are rendered simultaneously.
      (54 votes)
  • hopper cool style avatar for user MarceloOP ©
    which softwares are used to draw and animate the characters?
    (18 votes)
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  • starky ultimate style avatar for user llmxwll
    So cool that there is so much work, effort and technology going behind every single shot a movie. How much time on average does it take a team to produce a movie ready to showcase from scratch?
    (16 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Yuxin Zhang
    What should I do if I want to be a story artist in Pixar? which level of drawing does a story artist need to approach?
    (9 votes)
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  • hopper happy style avatar for user Alexis Beattie
    How long does it normally take for the animators to be done animating?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user 😊
    What program they used ?
    (4 votes)
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Video transcript

- Welcome to Pixar In A Box a collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios - and the Khan Academy. - I'm Fran, I work here on the technical side of things. - And I'm Alex, I work here on the art and story side of things. - (Fran) Pixar In A Box will introduce you to some of the fundamental skills we use to make our movies. - (Alex) There's examples of real life film challenges that show how an artist's idea can create a tidal wave of technical creativity. And how technical advances can inspire artists to think of new ideas to bring to the screen. You'll meet artists, scientists, animators, coders, sculptors, all kinds of different people. - And the thing is, most of them use skills you may already be learning in school. But here in the Box, you can see how we use those skills to make cool stuff. Before you dive into these lessons, you should see how it all fits together inside Pixar, the real Pixar. Come on, check it out. (light, flittering music) - At Pixar on any given day we're working on various stages of many films. - But it all begins with an idea. For example, "Toy Story" started with the notion that when kids leave the room their toys come to life. And, honestly, I was convinced that my toys did that. (scampering instrumental music) - Our films start in story, along with the director and the writer we figure out what happens using simple drawings. - (Fran) It's kind of like a comic book. - (Alex) Exactly, and while we're drawing, production designers and their team start designing the world and the characters. (smooth, cheerful orchestral music) While they're painting and drawing and scultping our storyboards go to editorial, where they string together all the drawings that we've created. - We time them out, add music, dialogue and sound effects. (clicking) - He's the only one who knew what the heck was going aaaaaaahhhhhhh! - And as these shots go through each stage in production, we'll update the scene over and over again. And this is where the science and the math come in. - Who knew what the heck was going aaaaaaahhhhhhh! (mischevious music) - What's next? Pipeline, we're ready to start making the film you'll see in the theater and this happens in a particular order. It's time for our technical artist to figure out how we're going to create the movie in the computer. - I've been here for nine years and I still have no idea how you guys turn our drawings into the finished film. - To be honest, something stumps us on every movie. - Hey Galyn. - Hey. - You've been here since Toy Story, what's been hard on each film? - Well on Toy Story everything. Here let me show you. On Toy Story we were inventing the entire process from scratch. Monsters Incorporated, fur and clothing. On Cars, reflective metal surfaces. On every new film there's a new technical challenge. On Inside Out we had to deal with a character made of glowing particles and it took lots of people to figure out just that one thing. - (Alex) Whoa, what is she made of? - Her shape will be made of points and particles of light. She was tough, this is the 17th version. - And the characters have to move, so someone has to add controls to the model. - Like a puppet, right? - Yes, except instead of strings, our animators will use a computer program to move the characters in a digital world. (bemused music) Next in the pipeline, sets. (playful music) - (Alex) So for Cars 2 you built the entire city of London? - We needed a huge chunk of the city because Mayor and McQueen speed through it. So we figured out to grow buildings with enough variation for them to look real. - (Fran) And we move through that set with our virtual cameras. Next up, animation. - I do know what the animators do. They bring the characters to life. - (Fran) You see how she's moving but her clothes and hair are missing? Adding and moving those elements is going to be someone else's job further down the pipeline. And by somebody else, I mean me and about 20 other simulation technical artists. Where are you getting all these shirts? We have to build everything you see, including the textures and surfaces which help make the world and characters believable. Next stop, lighting. - Ironically it's really dark in the lighting department. (playful music) So when you start, there are no lights? - No any source of light is something we have to add into the scene. In this shot alone there are 230 lights. - (Fran) Last stop, the Renderfarm. - A film is really a series of images or frames. There's 24 of them every second. (light, moving music) - (Fran) This is where we make the frames. Everything comes together here, all the art, math and science. A single frame can take more than 24 hours to render, and that's just one frame, and that's assuming we don't run into any snags. - Whoa! (thuds) (soaring orchestral music) - Wow, it's incredible seeing final shots. And now that I know how they're made, even cooler. - So that's the tour, our next step is to jump back into the Box and choose a lesson. What do you want to try? - Well this one on building robots using combinatorics, that looks pretty cool. - What about the one on sets and staging? - Yeah or the one on animating The Incredibles. - (Fran) Awesome, I always wanted to animate. (silly trumpet music)