Pixar: The math behind the movies


Khan Academy recently hooked up with Pixar Animation studies to create a new animation curriculum set. Kids can see how Disney artists use everyday math concepts they learned in school to create movies.
When interacting with the Pixar in a Box curriculum, students will discover some of the equations behind Pixar movies. They’ll learn:

  • How large swarms of robots in “WALL•E” were designed using combinatorics
  • How a field of grass was created in “Brave” using parabolic arcs
  • How simple models are transformed into realistic characters using weighted averages
  • How animators bring characters to life with the help of animation curves
  • How sets are constructed using geometric transformations
  • How all of Pixar’s images are painted using simultaneous equations
If the Pixar in a Box curriculum is too far above your kids’ heads, check out this short TED Talk. Pixar Research Lead Tony DeRose delves into the math behind the animations, explaining how arithmetic, trigonometry and geometry help bring Woody and other Pixar characters to life.

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