Author Topic: Pixar blows my mind  (Read 133 times)

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Offline Orbert

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Pixar blows my mind
« on: August 19, 2018, 11:14:05 PM »
I caught The Incredibles yesterday on TV.  Astounding animation, awesome story, just a freakin' masterpiece.  It occurred to me that it's my favorite superhero movie.  I love me some Marvel flicks, in fact I love a lot of them, but The Incredibles is still my favorite.  It makes no difference to me that it's a computer-generated flick; in fact, that may even work in its favor.

I remember going to the Computer Animation Festivals at The Odeon in East Lansing back in the late 80's.  Me and the other computer nerds from the lab at the community college used to go to them once or twice a year.  Red's Dream and Luxo, Jr. were groundbreaking.  They followed up with Tin Toy and Geri's Game and a few others, and there was nothing else like it.  John Lasseter and the team already known as Pixar, gave us Ray Tracing.  Ray Tracing is what makes computer graphics "look three-dimensional".  Lighting and shadows and shading and reflections and everything involving light, and how light or dark things should be, is computed and rendered mathematically.  It required ridiculous amounts of computer power, or ridiculous at the time anyway.  But nothing less than that will fool our eyes and brains.  If the shadows don't look right, forget it.  If the subtle difference in lightness and darkness as you move from one side of the room to the other isn't right, it doesn't look right.  You have to take into account every light source, and also reflected light off every potential surface in the room, which means taking distance and hue and color and saturation into account.  We're not talking about metallic surfaces, things that actually reflect images.  Mirrors are simple by comparison, and reflections in curved surfaces like pots and pans and metal balls aren't really that much harder, once you have the matrices set up.  But I digress.

In 1995, I saw a thing in the local paper and immediately recognized Pixar's distinctive look, all those years later.  It was an ad for Toy Story.  Nothing looked like Pixar.  It was next-level CGI.  Nowadays, all the major players have it in one form or another.  Sony (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), the Disney CGI team that isn't Pixar (Zootopia, Big Hero 6), and of course Dreamworks (How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek).  But they all came later.  I'm not 100% sure that Pixar invented Ray Tracing, but they made it mainstream.

The only other thing I'll say (for now) about Pixar flicks is that they just plain speak to me.  I don't know why.  I cried real tears the first time I watched Toy Story 2.  The song was Randy Newman's "When She Loved Me" sung by Sarah McLachlan (Jessie's song in the movie).  I mean... damn.  And of course the opening segment of Up!  If you didn't shed a few tears when you watched that, you are not human.  And that means you're a freaking alien and I will have to kill you if we ever meet.  Sorry, nothing personal.

Okay, I'm getting off-topic again.  I'm sorry about that.  I get pretty carried away when I think about Pixar.  So many masterpieces, so many great flicks.  Pixar blows my mind.

Yeah yeah, I know there's the bracket thread.  I somehow can't get into that.  I'm not into ranking things or trying to decide which is better in a one-on-one situation.  I just appreciate.

Offline bosk1

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Re: Pixar blows my mind
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2018, 08:52:40 AM »
I agree with all of that.  They have combined cutting edge animation with great storytelling, and have been incredibly consistent on both fronts. 
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