Pixar Secrets Revealed at California Science Center Exhibit

'Toy Story' and 'Finding Nemo' are among the interactive experiences at 'The Science Behind Pixar.'
Courtesy of Michael Malyszko/California Science Center

Buzz Lightyear, Dory, WALL-E and other beloved characters from Pixar's animated films are featured as part of The Science Behind Pixar, a new exhibition opening Oct. 15 at the California Science Center.

On Thursday during a media preview, representatives from the Science Center and Pixar unveiled the 12,000-square-foot interactive exhibition, which showcases the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts used by the artists and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s films to the screen.

The Science Behind Pixar Exhibition is a fun, hands-on experience where guests can explore the art and science of animation at Pixar as though they were part of the production team,” said Jeffrey N. Rudolph, president and CEO at the California Science Center.

"This is so intuitive, which is very gratifying," added Finding Dory producer Lindsey Collins, who also serves as Pixar’s vp development and new media.

With 40 interactive elements inspired by Pixar films from Toy Story to Inside Out, the exhibition is broken into eight sections, each focusing on a step of the filmmaking process — modeling, rigging, surfaces, sets & camera, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering. Sets & cameras demonstrates how a bug's-eye view was achieved for A Bug’s Life, using camera angles and large-set design within the computer. The modeling section shows how Toy Story’s digital sculptures are created based on sketches from artists, while the lighting area examines challenges similar to those Pixar artists faced in creating animated water with virtual light in Finding Nemo.

Developed by the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with Pixar, the exhibit is part of the Science Museum Exhibit Collaborative, of which the California Science Center is a member.

Discussions about the idea for the exhibit actually began a decade ago, and according to Pixar senior vp production Tom Porter, it was created over three years of “serious work.” Among his favorite parts: a simulation lesson from Brave, which explains Merida’s “wild, crazy, curly hair in pre-elementary-school physics.”

On Thursday, THR took a tour of the exhibit with Collins and Porter, which was streamed on Facebook Live.

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