How Pixar’s Animation Has Evolved Over 24 Years, From ‘Toy Story’ To ‘Toy Story 4’ | Movies Insider

How Pixar’s Animation Has Evolved Over 24 Years, From ‘Toy Story’ To ‘Toy Story 4’ | Movies Insider


Woody: There’s no place like home! [Narrator] This is a dog
in 1995’s “Toy Story.” It was a staggering
achievement at the time, but the detail in the
fur just isn’t there. Compare that to this cat in “Toy Story 4.” The difference is clear. But getting from that dog to this cat required a lot of innovation in between. Pixar forever changed animation
in 1995 with “Toy Story,” the first full-length
computer-animated movie. With “Toy Story 4,” it’s proving that it’s far from done changing the game. Between 1995 and 2019, Pixar has made 21 feature-length films, four of those being “Toy Story” movies. When “Toy Story” was
first released in 1995, nobody had ever seen
anything like it before. And in order to bring it to life, the animators had to do
some unbelievable things. And one of the most important factors in how Pixar makes its magic
happen involves rendering. Rendering saves the computer image to the perfect finished
image or video frame, with lighting and motion effects. In order to render “Toy
Story,” the animators had 117 computers running 24 hours a day. Each individual frame
could take from 45 minutes to 30 hours to render,
depending on how complex. There were a total of 114,240 frames to render. Throughout the movie, there are
over 77 minutes of animation spread across 1,561 shots. They had to invent a new
software, called Renderman, to handle all this footage. Woody: These guys are professionals. They’re the best! [Narrator] According to
producer Jonas Rivera, if they had to today, they
could render “Toy Story” faster than you could
watch the entire movie. However, the complexity of “Toy Story 4” means it can take 60 to 160
hours to render one frame. And there were a lot of limitations. For instance, at this time,
Pixar hadn’t quite figured out how to fully animate human characters. Animating clothes was time-consuming, so you’ll notice a lot of
shots of hands and feet in the movie from a toy’s perspective. Additionally, they would sometimes choose not to fully light characters, so you wouldn’t see any missing details. More on lighting characters
and fully clothing them later. When “Toy Story 2” came around in 1999, they’d had some time to
work out some of the kinks, especially with 1998’s “A Bug’s Life” in between the two movies. In this sequel, you’ll be
able to see more visible, fully formed human characters. One key thing the animators
were starting to figure out here to help them tackle humans: smoothness, which they got practice
on in “A Bug’s Life.” Here, you can see the
improvement in just a few years. They wouldn’t be ready to
have a fully human cast until 2004’s “The Incredibles.” But before mastering humans,
they stepped into fantasy with 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.” Worker: Ooh, they’re so awesome! [Narrator] In “Monsters, Inc.”
they tackled fur head-on. Fur is hard to animate, whether computer-generated or stop-motion. This is because it involves
animating thousands, or even millions, of individual
parts of a character’s body. In the VFX world, characters are designed then rigged by adding points of movement, which can then be manually manipulated. While limbs are typically
manual based on the scene, something like fur needed to be automated, since it would take a
lot more time to move each individual strand of hair. “A Bug’s Life,” which centers on insects, didn’t have a need for fur. And there is a dog in “Toy
Story,” but as you’ll notice, it’s pretty smooth, as is
the dog in “Toy Story 2.” Sully, who’s tall and
covered head to toe in fur, has over 1 million hairs on his body. But it’s not just how it looks; the animators had to get
all of those hairs to move. To do this, they created a
program called Simulation, in which certain elements
that are too difficult to hand-animate are motion-simulated. See, instead of looking at
Sully’s hair as a whole, they looked at each strand
as a distinct particle. They had to look at every kind of force that would act on those particles, and thus how each one would
move in reaction to them. So if you want to work at Pixar, you might need to know physics. They also found real-world
fur on different animals, like llamas, for reference. By doing this, they found
the best way to make hair look and move realistically
is to clump it together. “Monsters, Inc.” laid down
the technical foundation, which allowed Pixar to have
over 250 furry monsters in the sequel, “Monsters University.” The tools at their
disposal also helped them create fur on animals seen
in “Ratatouille” and “Up,” the moss on the submarine from
this scene in “Finding Nemo,” and the grass on the ground in “Cars.” Pixar’s next movie, 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” also required the
animators to create things they’d never put on screen before. This time, they had to figure
out how to make a movie set largely underwater. Once again, science and
real-world references would help them out. Just as they did with hair,
they broke down the water as much as they could to get it right. According to director of
photography Danielle Feinberg, they started with a
real-life underwater clip, re-created it in the computer, and broke it down to find
the most essential elements. The biggest one? Light, and
how it travels through water. The light they created
affected both the visibility and the color of the film’s
elaborate underwater world. And while they need science to animate certain elements of a movie, there are times where they
can use artistic license. For instance, they made
the water in Sydney Harbour look fairly green to fit
the mood of the scene. In reality, it would not be that color. Once the environment was created, they had to populate the world. Perhaps the most challenging
sea creature they had to create was Hank the octopus from the
2016 sequel, “Finding Dory.” It was literally impossible
for them to put Hank in “Nemo,” and you can see why. Creating just one scene with him supposedly took about two years. Character supervisor
Jeremy Talbot explained that they had to break down an octopus and piece it back together again, which sounds a lot like how
Pixar mastered fur and water. One thing they discovered
was that octopus tentacles don’t bend but almost unfurl. An engineer spent six months just getting the curve of one of his tentacles right, and this was even before
they mastered his camouflage. And as Pixar got better at
developing the natural world, it also improved on the man-made world. By the time 2006’s “Cars” came around, Pixar had about 1,000
times the computing power it did on “Toy Story.” “Cars” gave the animators a
chance to hone their skills creating metal surfaces. As they did with the
water in “Finding Nemo,” they took time to make the light reflect off Lightning McQueen. Those metal surfaces
would then be rusted up and seen in 2008’s
“Wall-E,” often considered one of Pixar’s most
visually stunning works. Then when “Ratatouille”
rolled around in 2007, Pixar combined its ability to work with fur from “Monsters, Inc.” and with water in “Finding
Nemo” to display wet fur. Lighting is one of the
most important factors in making CG animation look real. It takes a lot of rendering
time to get it right. And it’s not just one or two
lights we’re talking about. This one shot alone in
“Ratatouille” contained 230 lights. But that’s nothing. Jump ahead to 2017’s “Coco.” When Miguel enters the Land of the Dead, he’s laying his eyes on
about 8 million lights. And even with a movie as
visually ambitious as this one, something as simple as clothes
can be the biggest challenge. A lot of the characters
that wore clothes in “Coco” were actually skeletons. The animators found that
while simulating clothing, the cloth would often get
caught between individual bones, creating a wedgie of sorts. For this, it implemented a technique called continuous collision detection, which allowed the animators to spot the clothes getting caught, even at moments where it
was difficult to notice. A year later, when the long-awaited
“Incredibles 2” came out they were back to working with
humans: skin, bones, and all. There was a 14-year gap between
the two “Incredibles” movies and the benefits of improved technology actually allowed them to make Jack-Jack look even cuter than he
did in the first movie. All of these movies would
eventually lead to “Toy Story 4.” Twenty-four years after
the original was released, it seems like this sequel is
trying to do a lot of things the original just couldn’t. The differences couldn’t be more stark. While “Toy Story” used
a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, “Toy Story 4” expanded to 2.39:1, so what you saw went from this to this. Now that Pixar had figured out how to put fur on one character
and then hundreds more, it could make the animals
in this movie eye-popping. Fans pointed out that a
cat in a clip for the movie looked 100% real. Compare that with Sid’s
dog in the original if you really want to know
how far Pixar has come. Even just compare how
much different it looks from the cat in “Coco.” In the same vein, creating
stuffed animals covered in fur was not the challenge it once was, and it allowed Pixar to give
Ducky and Bunny starring roles. In addition, rain scenes
are not easy to animate. Just like with the
water in “Finding Nemo,” the animators did a physics-centered, frame-by-frame analysis of raindrops. Luckily, they’d done
enough creating rivers in “The Good Dinosaur” that
bringing a torrential downpour to life was a little less challenging. Like with Jack-Jack in “Incredibles 2,” the animators use sequels as an excuse to improve upon their classics. They didn’t just give
Bo Peep a new outfit; they were also able to make her look like a much more convincing doll. Years of perfecting shiny surfaces allowed them to really bring
out Bo’s porcelain skin. To effectively light this material, the director of photography referenced lighting of female characters in movies made from the 1930s through the 1960s. The team also realized they couldn’t use square lights on Bo. Only circular lights without sharp edges would reflect well on porcelain. “Toy Story 4” also gave Pixar a chance to do something surprising:
go back to basics. Look no further than Forky. Forky: I don’t belong here! [Narrator] There are no tentacles, no fur, no shiny surfaces here,
just a plastic fork. But he couldn’t be more real. And Pixar isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, they’re moving
“Onward,” literally.

100 thoughts to “How Pixar’s Animation Has Evolved Over 24 Years, From ‘Toy Story’ To ‘Toy Story 4’ | Movies Insider”

  1. I wonder how long it took them to make the whole Finding Dory movie if the scene with Hank took them 2 years to mater

  2. I knew I couldn't be the only one who noticed how amazing this movie looked, and thought that cat looked incredibly realistic! Also did anyone else notice a girl that looked very similar to Boo from Monsters Inc in some scenes?

  3. Me: hmmm maybe I should make cartoons or movies in the future!

    Also me: *watches video* yeah uh…forget I said that

  4. As someone who is studying animation (just 2d for now, but still) I find this to be really interesting.
    Pixar has always been a huge insperation for me and that will never change

  5. Well I don't really agree on what the video says about the cat in toy story 4 like "look at coco's cat it's not realistic compare to toy story because of how they improve the technic now" when obviously it's just a matter of stylistic because when coco was realeased cgi could already make that kind of hyperrealistic look…

  6. i wonder if they could really create a movie that looks 100% real if they ditched the stylized comic artdirection.

    would they be trapped in the uncanny calley or could it work?

  7. Honestly the whole not being able to die thing creeped me & my sister out.
    The toys that Spike blew up are still alive but in various pieces in his garden, imagine being a doll’s eye living for years in the mud unable to do anything about your situation. 👁

  8. Rendering toy story 1 in 1995 – 1 year using 1000 computer render farm.
    Rendering toy story 1 in 2019 – 10 minutes using an iphone
    video in a nutshell

  9. It's pretty insane how distinctly better all the characters look but are still unmistakable for their earlier versions.

  10. I just realized how much the toy story 2 logo looks similiar to the one of the sims 2. An interesting tribute, probably.

  11. The movie was incredible but…
    SPOILER
    Had a very bittersweet ending. It just may be the end of the series.

  12. Toy Story =looks like an early ps3 game on a emulator
    Toy Story 2= looks like an early ps4 game
    Toy Story 3= looks like a ps4 pro game
    Toy Story 4= looks like real life.

  13. So every Pixar movie has had a purpose more than just creating sequels. It's amazing how far they've come

  14. 🏆 Toy Story {1995)
    🏆 Toy Story 2 {1999}
    🏆 Toy Story 3 (2010}

    ❌Toy Story 4 [2019}

    Toy Story 12&3 are golden masterpieces. Toy Story 4 was unnecessary and still is rather people liked are not lol.

  15. “…over 24 years…”

    I was like damn it’s been that long? Then I remembered I was born in 1993, so I’m even older. 😭

  16. 🏆 Toy Story (1995)
    🏆 Toy Story 2 (1999)
    🏆 Toy Story 3 (2010)

    ❌Toy Story 4 (2019)

    Toy Story 12&3 is golden masterpieces while Toy Story 4 was unnecessary and still is rather people actually liked the movie are not which is very disappointing lol.

  17. Knowing that you start to remember things at about 3 years old using the dates that all the toy storys came out I made a little nostalgia chart.

    Toy story 1-1995 so people who have nostalgia were probably born 1992 and under

    Toy story 2-1999 people nostalgic for this movie born around 1996 and under

    Toy story 3-2010 people nostalgic for the movie born around 2007 and under

    Toy story 4-2019 people nostalgic for this movie (not really cause it just came out) born around 2016 and under.

    Please don't get offended I just thought the idea is kinda cool

  18. I recall The Incredibles being a big technical achievement for hair simulation. There clearly was a before and after.

  19. I can remember the human characters in Toy Story 1 looking pretty weird at the time, because the cartoon-looking CGI that's the norm today hadn't been conceived of yet. CGI was meant to be about realism. Watching it again, they don't like weird at all, just perhaps a little crude.

  20. The fact that they create more amazing animations WHILE perfecting their techniques on each medium is pure genius and amazing. Pixar is truly making the world a better place, creating good memories for people and making advancement in technology.

  21. I like how every Pixar animation is a masterpiece. They don't make animations, they make memories. Thank you Pixar …

  22. 1:46 in other words…. it could be a video game with 1/1 graphics. That's the crazy thing about video game tech and how it relates to the CG movie tech. Both involve the same basic premise of your computer producing an image from the software data, the difference is that video games are doing all that rendering right then and there, up to 240 frames a SECOND, whereas a movie can be rendered out over months. That's why CG movies always look lightyears more advanced then the games out at the same time (Compare 1995's Toy Story to the graphics from say a Playstation 1 game from 1995).

  23. WALL-E is underrated, they focus on TS4 more.
    It looked out of its time like the first 39 minutes of the movie looked almost 100% real and it was made in 2008!
    When I first saw the film when I started playing Mario Galaxy (Around 3 or so) I thought it was, and Toy Story 4 took its place.

  24. You could at least've used the HD clips from these films… all the sub SD clips make the point about detail more difficult to convey.

  25. For us in Italy it was kinda sad because the voice actor for Woody died and they had to change it, the original one was perfect

  26. Sid's dog is an actual demon but no one in the neighborhood acknowledges it, they just keep the holy water on hand.

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