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Showing posts from April, 2012

Math in the Movies

by Julia Moore, Drake HS

On April 4th, Tony DeRose Ph.D. came to the Marin Science Seminar to discuss the many applications of mathematics at Pixar studios.  As a high school student, it can seem like hours of abstract math each week is a strange use of time, but calculus, geometry and other advanced mathematics are used on a daily basis at Pixar to make the incredible animations we know and love.

The process of making an animated film involves many steps with fine tuning at each to create the incredible worlds we see on the screen.  First, the story is drawn by hand into a "storyreel".  For each character, sketches of the character's main facial expressions are made to understand the character's personality.  The characters and sets are then modeled from the sketches on computers.  There are controls for the movement of different body parts of each character.  To simulate face movement, there are over 300 controls for the face movements of each character, each for a…