Pixar gets a lot of credit for movies that carry emotional weight, superb art direction, and a seriousness of purpose that have helped elevate CGI storytelling in general (Cars 2 notwithstanding). Less acknowledged is the all the math that goes into modeling, animating, and generally breathing digital life into the dreams of Pixar’s artists.

Pixar Animation’s Tony DeRose explained to Numberphile how equations and geometry turn basic shapes into forms that appear to have life and substance.

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Intended for an audience well-versed in mathematical concepts, DeRose starts with a sculpted hand model from their 1997 short film, Geri’s Game, and quickly descends into “carefully constructed, weighted averages,” Pascal’s Triangle, and magic numbers discovered over 40 years ago by the Ed Catmull, President of Pixar.

If all this is a little much, feel free to take an easier math course, courtesy of Pixar’s parent company. It might even up your billiards game.

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