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Pixar's papers on computer graphics
January 25, 2008 9:39 PM   Subscribe

1982-2007 Pixar's papers on computer graphics
posted by brundlefly (21 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, this is real gold for Pixar fans, and that certainly includes me and the family! Many thanks for pointing us to this!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:51 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


A starch. Definite flypaper.
posted by Mblue at 9:57 PM on January 25, 2008


Very interesting. This was especially enlightening.
posted by demiurge at 10:06 PM on January 25, 2008


When I was a lad, I used to play with an Amiga and tool around with graphics using deluxe paint and raytracing. This activity took over my life from years 10-15 : I lived in a disturbing troglodytic fashion, occasionally seeing daylight, my hormones subsumed by and filtered through a small CRT and the daily arrival of floppy disks with the atest cracks and demos from around the world in recycled mailing packages.

During that time, seeing TV shows containing the latest pixar demo (always prefaced by the little hopping lamp) filled me with joy for the things computers could do and the worlds they could conjour. I'm no longer troglodytic with computers and don't feel quite the rush I did when I was a kid looking at the latest geegaws from dreamworks or whomever has some rendering engine and a cluster of fast PCs and some numb recycled ideas to sell me some dumb shit.

Now, Imagine a jaded old religionist, maybe even a scholar, who as a teenager was a blood-and-thunder Born Again Christian.

Imagine him growing old, seeing the big picture, but losing the fire wthin. Imagine him, on vacation, on a walking tour of Qumran and fiding these.

While poring over the scrolls, he has a flash of revelation, of trancendence, of that old-time-religion.


Seeing these articles makes me feel like that old man.
posted by lalochezia at 10:15 PM on January 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, I'd be the first to agree that Dreamworks is selling some dumb shit, as lalochezia puts it. And a lot of the other animation studios, too: there's plenty of dreck out there from those with "some rendering engine and a cluster of fast PCs". The great thing about Pixar, though, is that the computer animation technology is always at the service of great stories, wonderfully and skillfully told. Those folks have a lot of heart, a lot of love for the characters they create, and that transcends the genre. They just happen to use computers to make great movies.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:35 PM on January 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


They tell old tales wonderfully, Boundin', and one Man Band.
posted by Mblue at 10:49 PM on January 25, 2008


This is really cool, thanks!
posted by amyms at 10:50 PM on January 25, 2008


Enjoy Boundin' before copyright erases.
posted by Mblue at 10:59 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is amazing. Thank you so very much for posting this, brundlefly.
posted by maryh at 11:45 PM on January 25, 2008


I'm always impressed with Pixar -- they've managed to get the perfect marriage of creativity and technical expertise. The stories are great on their own, the technology is great on their own, but when the two work together, it's greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes I think this is precisely what makes Apple a successful company. The product designers engineer and the engineers design -- they approach their problems as a coupling of the two rather than having two teams who send memos to each other.
posted by spiderskull at 12:21 AM on January 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


lalochezia, get out of my head... old Amiga 1000 hacker, learned assembly by dissecting graphics demos. Went to college and got my account suspended for using a closed lab's set of Sun Workstations for distributed ray-tracing.... Cool, I'll be enjoying this.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:44 AM on January 26, 2008


Very cool. Would love to get my hands on whatever ray tracing software Pixar have developed internally, because POVRay just isn't cutting it for me at the moment. Damn, it's focal blur sucks.
posted by Jimbob at 2:26 AM on January 26, 2008


"Would love to get my hands on whatever ray tracing software Pixar have developed internally"

Start here: Purchase Renderman.
posted by effbot at 2:40 AM on January 26, 2008


Purchase Renderman.

Only $3,500 and it's yours!

It's interesting that Pixar has published so many papers in the last couple of years, but only three in all of the 1990s.
posted by grouse at 2:43 AM on January 26, 2008


Here's some quotes I remember off the top of my head from director Brad Bird, which are sprinkled throughout his DVD audio commentary of Pixar's 2004 Blockbuster The Incredibles:

"Crowd scenes? Those were hard."
"Hair is very hard to do."
"Water is so hard!"
"Ice bridges are so hard!"
"See how her body goes flat like that? On a curved surface? That was hard."
"Wet hair? That was hard."
"See that right there? That took months! And it's only like, four seconds on film!"
"This movie was very hard to make!"

Thanks for not taking the easy route, Pixar. Now get to work on Finding Dori for real, or I will hold my breath until I turn blue!
posted by ZachsMind at 3:55 AM on January 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I actually know some of these people. You'd be amazed how kids treat them like rock stars when they they find out they work at Pixar.
posted by dw at 8:18 AM on January 26, 2008


kids treat them like rock stars when they they find out they work at Pixar...
When I heard from an ex-coworker that he had started working at Pixar, I couldn't contain myself and started gushing about how much I love Pixar's films, asking him about the work environment, asking about his coworkers, if he had met Brad Bird and/or John Lasseter, how he was going to decorate his work space, etc. etc.

I'm hoping to find some time this year to visit him at the Pixar office.
posted by junesix at 9:18 AM on January 26, 2008


It's surprising that there was no paper on renderman. Am I missing something?
posted by sien at 5:01 PM on January 26, 2008


I remember going O_o at the sewer rapids scene from Ratatouille and thinking how crazy it must have been to create. And now there's a paper on it. Thanks!
posted by casarkos at 6:05 PM on January 26, 2008


junesix: There's a Simpsons episode in which Bart, in New York with his family, strays away to go to the headquarters of Mad Magazine. He goes in and is at first disappointed to find that it's just an ordinary magazine office, but then a door opens, and behind it is Alfred E. Neuman and all kinds of crazy things.

I mention this because Pixar must have a door just like that. When you visit, look for it!
posted by JHarris at 7:05 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's surprising that there was no paper on renderman. Am I missing something?

Yes, pretty much every one of those first 7-8 papers is about technology used in Renderman, especially "The Reyes Rendering Architecture". And most of the papers since then describe some technique they have added to Renderman.
posted by FlunkedFlank at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2008


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