“The Science Behind Pixar” at Science World

Movie magic.

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Monsters, Inc. WALL-E. The Incredibles. Since its first feature-length film (Toy Story) released in 1995, Pixar Animation Studios has charmed audiences both young and old with revolutionary strides in computer technology alongside heartwarming stories of friendship, courage, and family. Based in Emeryville, California, the Academy Award-winning computer animation film studio is where so many lovable characters are brought to life, fully realized through the collaborative teamwork of approximately 250 people per movie. With company headquarters closed to the public, the secrets behind Pixar’s magic have remained largely a mystery—that is, until the arrival of an engaging exhibit at Science World.

On until January 6, 2019, The Science Behind Pixar, developed by the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with the film studio, takes visitors on an interactive journey outlining how a Pixar animated film is made. Also known as the production pipeline, this nine-step process begins with story and art, followed by modelling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting, and rendering. From the digital recreation of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in Finding Nemo to the software behind Merida’s responsive curly red hair in Brave, trade secrets can be explored through the exhibition’s 40-plus experiential elements. Much like the real trial-and-error process that goes on at Pixar Studios, each workstation breaks down the complexities behind its particular stage along the pipeline and allows visitors to investigate and experiment. It is an ideal playground for those fascinated by the intersection of art and technology.

“At Science World, we talk a lot about STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math,” says Jo-Ann Coggan, the exhibition’s local curator and Science World’s director of community outreach, at the exhibition preview. “Now there’s this pull to bring art into that circle because art is such a big part of these components, and this exhibit is such a good representation of STEM. When people think of animated movies, they think of art immediately—but there’s so much science, technology, engineering, and math that goes into the creation of animated movies these days.”

With 17 films featured, this exciting hands-on display celebrates 23 years of exceptional movie-making. So, from fans of the films to those more curious about the creativity that goes on behind the scenes, there is something for everyone to appreciate here, no matter what age.


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May 23, 2018