Pixar has been on the forefront of innovation pretty much since the company’s inception. With each new film that they produce, their animators take another step forward in terms of improving and streamlining their workflow to create a more naturalistic finished product. For their latest release, Incredibles 2, they went all in on hair.
Previously, Pixar animators would articulate a character’s hair using a few hundred “guide hairs” and then would have to wait for the animation to be rendered to see how accurately those guides did what they were supposed to. Now, however, they use full fidelity hair, which allows animators to manipulate and adjust various qualities of a character’s hair in real time. The scruffiness, the clumping, and the general style of each character’s hair can all be adjusted using a variety of procedural tools and movable guiding lines. But the biggest advantage of this process is the fact that they’re doing it live, without having to wait to see how many bald spots they accidentally created along the way.
From an outsider’s perspective, this level of attention being paid to hair may seem a bit obsessive. But using technology like this allows character animators to efficiently and accurately create movement that mirrors real life. That attention to detail is the reason Pixar continues to stand apart from other animation studios.
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