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  • This is Andy from 1995's "Toy Story."

  • Showing off a 3D-animated human

  • was a groundbreaking achievement at the time,

  • but he clearly lacks details when compared to someone

  • like Dash from 2018's "Incredibles 2."

  • His freckles are way more prominent,

  • his long hair is less stiff,

  • and his expressions are more noticeable.

  • Humans have always been a challenging obstacle for Pixar,

  • and getting from 1995's Andy

  • to where we are today took its animators years

  • and countless simulations to master all the elements

  • that make up a person:

  • hair,

  • skin,

  • [Mr. Incredible grunting]

  • muscles,

  • and movement.

  • [Carl groaning]

  • When Pixar embarked on its first feature-length film,

  • it still had work to do to figure out

  • how to make 3D-animated human characters.

  • When animators tried,

  • some of their digital models came out stiff,

  • so they came up with some

  • creative solutions where they could.

  • Lighting was one clever way to hide those imperfections,

  • shrouding human characters in darkness,

  • like in this scene at Pizza Planet.

  • But in order to avoid showing bodies completely,

  • they staged many shots so you could only see feet and hands,

  • like this shot of Andy's mom walking in the room.

  • Creating a variety of different people

  • of all shapes and sizes,

  • and especially the clothes that they would wear,

  • was especially time consuming.

  • So instead of customizing every individual,

  • they Frankensteined it,

  • copying body parts from some humans

  • and creating new humans out of those parts,

  • while changing little bits and pieces

  • of their physical appearance.

  • But even in that first feature film,

  • they did have an early breakthrough.

  • Animators needed to distinguish between

  • the look of the toys and the look of the humans.

  • One way to do this was through movement.

  • Head animator Pete Docter observed, for example,

  • that Woody was floppy and loose.

  • Therefore, he would have quicker movements.

  • On the other hand, humans were bigger and heavier,

  • meaning they had to slow their movements down.

  • 1997 "Geri's Game" was the first Pixar project

  • to feature a human character as its lead.

  • This four-and-a-half-minute short

  • was basically an experiment.

  • One of the most prominent features

  • to focus on for Geri was his skin.

  • Human skin needs to be smooth.

  • Prior to "Geri's Game," human models were built in patches.

  • Skin sometimes came out looking more plastic.

  • This is where math came to the rescue.

  • Enter the subdivision technique,

  • which is when an animator subdivides a hard-edged shape

  • enough times that it becomes a soft and smooth surface.

  • Thanks to subdivision, Geri's hand looks much smoother,

  • like a human hand should.

  • This method has been used on every Pixar movie since,

  • smoothing out everything from humans to bugs to buildings.

  • That work allowed Andy and the rest of the human characters

  • to spend less time in the shadows

  • in 1999's "Toy Story 2."

  • Another tool that pulled humans out of the shadows

  • was a RenderMan shader.

  • This let animators paint on details

  • to the basic character renderings

  • like pores, veins, and blotches.

  • There is no better example of this advance

  • than toy collector Al.

  • You can see the skin imperfections on his face

  • and even a 5 o'clock shadow.

  • And this shader tool would be used all the time.

  • It's how they made sure Mamá Coco

  • had such distinct facial details

  • compared to other characters in "Coco,"

  • but we didn't see that until 2017.

  • At the precipice of the new millennium,

  • Pixar was inching closer to giving animated humans

  • even more screen time.

  • [television crashes]

  • Boo: Uh-oh.

  • [Mike and Sulley screaming]

  • Narrator: There were still a few hoops to jump through,

  • which you can see in 2001's "Monsters, Inc."

  • One of the biggest issues with human characters

  • continued to be their clothes.

  • Boo, the movie's only human character,

  • wears a big flowy shirt.

  • Prior to "Monsters, Inc.," characters wore clothes

  • that moved automatically with them.

  • A new simulator called Fizt enabled them

  • to animate Boo and her shirt separately.

  • Look at how much more natural

  • the movement of Boo's shirt looks

  • compared to Sid's sister's shirt

  • in this moment from "Toy Story,"

  • where the shirt barely moves as she does.

  • And while Fizt allowed for both better clothing

  • and all the fur you see on Sulley,

  • it couldn't do everything.

  • Director Pete Docter wanted to give Boo long hair,

  • but to do that, the animators would have had to animate

  • in pieces instead of in one block.

  • So to save them the trouble, they gave her pigtails instead,

  • which were easier to manage.

  • Now that Pixar could create skin and make clothes move,

  • it was time to make a feature-length movie

  • entirely populated by human characters

  • in the form of 2004's "The Incredibles."

  • One of the first tasks?

  • Conquering long hair.

  • Director Brad Bird insisted Violet have the long hair

  • that Boo didn't have.

  • Animators already had to deal with a lot of hair collisions

  • on a normal head of hair,

  • so you can imagine how much they dealt with it for Violet,

  • especially with how many different situations

  • she finds herself in

  • and all the times she plays with her hair.

  • The team developed a core simulation engine

  • that handled all the collisions caused by long hair

  • while keeping it moving and flowing,

  • as well as the tools that gave animators more control

  • over the placement and velocity of her hair.

  • Figuring out how to properly animate and then render

  • Violet's signature hair took six months of work,

  • but Violet wasn't the only character pushing the way

  • Pixar physically builds humans.

  • Mr. Incredible is all muscle,

  • and none of Pixar's human characters resembled him.

  • For that reason, animators used a software called Goo,

  • which allows the skin to react

  • to moving and sliding muscles,

  • making a character's movement look a lot more natural.

  • While many of the developments created

  • for the making of "The Incredibles"

  • were specific for certain characters,

  • the studio wasn't done perfecting the look of human skin.

  • See, human skin is actually somewhat transparent.

  • Some light needs to go through the skin, scatter around,

  • and then reflect back.

  • If the skin looks too solid and no light gets in,

  • it won't look natural.

  • So animators used subsurface scattering to render skin.

  • With subsurface scattering applied,

  • skin no longer just looked like a rigid surface.

  • They actually found inspiration for the skin

  • in an unlikely place.

  • The tools used to make the "Finding Nemo" fish

  • look translucent were used to scatter light

  • off the skin of humans here.

  • But with these advancements, the studio never forgot

  • that the skin couldn't look too realistic,

  • despite the capabilities that the shader

  • and the subsurface scattering now allowed.

  • If a human were to look too real,

  • then they would enter into the realm

  • of the disturbing uncanny valley.

  • So while details like follicles and pores

  • could have been added, they were purposely left out.

  • Pixar has been able to build convincing humans

  • that don't follow all the basic rules of human anatomy

  • throughout the years.

  • For example, Carl Fredricksen from 2009's "Up."

  • His head was deliberately designed

  • to have massive, boxy proportions,

  • and instead of adding every tiny skin detail,

  • they focused on the most defining wrinkles

  • in an old man's face.

  • Skin and bone aren't the only things that make up a human.

  • Pixar constantly strived to make humans more expressive.

  • By the time "Ratatouille" was in the works,

  • Pixar would have 150 controls just on a character's face.

  • These controls allowed for the varying movement speeds

  • between toys and humans in "Toy Story"

  • and got even more sophisticated over the years,

  • granting animators the ability to slow down

  • and minimize the movements of an elderly character

  • like Carl in "Up."

  • Control points also allow for the complex expressions

  • of a character like Chef Skinner,

  • as well as more subtle and varied body motions,

  • like Linguini's slapstick movements.

  • Meanwhile, Violet's long hair paved the way for Colette,

  • who had 176,030 hairs on her head.

  • Advanced simulations had to be applied

  • to make sure strands would not merge into each other.

  • Despite the sophistication of Colette's hair,

  • Pixar still had hair challenges,

  • specifically mastering curly hair.

  • According to Pixar's chief technology officer, Steve May,

  • curly hair needs to be soft

  • while still holding a curly shape.

  • So in 2009, simulation supervisor Claudia Chung

  • and her team developed a new simulator

  • called Taz for 2012's "Brave,"

  • which built Merida's hair as coil-like locks

  • to imitate the movement of real curly hair.

  • But the curls would completely unwind,

  • so the animators added invisible core springs

  • underneath them, allowing the locks

  • to move with more control.

  • The better Pixar's animators got at creating humans,

  • the easier it was for them to play around with their form

  • and literally deconstruct them.

  • 2017's "Coco" features a cast of skeleton characters

  • that were based on humans.

  • Animators were able to use the same rigs

  • they would use for humans covered in flesh and muscle,

  • but with some changes, as the bones needed to move

  • in ways that you wouldn't normally see

  • in human characters.

  • For one, the skeletons were able to detach their bones,

  • so the rigs were altered to allow for this.

  • A tool called Kingpin made the bones appear looser

  • by adding jiggle to them, which you can see here.

  • Pixar then put all the skin and muscle back on

  • for "Incredibles 2,"

  • a sequel 14 years in the making.

  • Even with all the strides made back in 2004

  • with the first "Incredibles,"

  • there was still so much more that Brad Bird

  • and the animation team wanted to improve on.

  • When the first movie came out,

  • they didn't have the ability to get every single detail

  • from the original clay sculpts of the characters.

  • Now they could.

  • Just look at the difference between Jack-Jack

  • in the two movies.

  • This is partially because for the first time ever,

  • Pixar was able to base the characters' eyes

  • off real human eyes.

  • Sure, the eyes are still bigger and more stylized

  • than normal, but just look at this shot of Dash.

  • The eyes are less circular

  • and more of an oval when opened wide.

  • Meanwhile, creating and rendering Violet's long hair

  • was easier now than it was in 2004,

  • and even more free-flowing here.

  • And speaking of hair,

  • there were further hair breakthroughs.

  • In the past, animators would only be able to work

  • with scant guide strands of hairs,

  • just guessing what the finalized hair would look like.

  • That would have made it tough to animate Elastigirl

  • on her motorcycle as her hair flows in the wind,

  • or Violet blow-drying her hair.

  • But now, animators had full access