Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
What did we really learn from our high school math classes, and how much have we used those learned skills in the real world? While I haven’t used much of my advanced math education in my film blogging career, the movies we watch couldn’t exist without these calculations. Pixar Research Lead Tony DeRose gave a TED Talk talking about how Pixar uses math to create their magical computer animated feature films that we have come to love.
DeRose delves into the math behind the animations, explaining how arithmetic, trigonometry and geometry help bring Woody and the rest of your favorite characters to life.
Watch the TED Talk video embedded after the jump to learn about the math of Pixar movies.
TED Talk: The Math of Pixar Movies
You can also check out a demonstration of Pixar’s Presto animation system software at NVIDIA’s GTC conference, which was created for Brave and is being used on every Pixar movie since:
Tony DeRose is the Research Group Lead at Pixar. Here is his official bio from Pixar’s website:
Tony DeRose is currently a Senior Scientist and lead of the Research Group at Pixar Animation Studios. He received a BS in Physics in from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1986 to 1995 Dr. DeRose was a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. In 1998, he was a major contributor to the Oscar (c) winning short film “Geri’s game”, in 1999 he received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award, and in 2006 he received a Scientific and Technical Academy Award (c) for his work on surface representations. In addition to his research interests, Tony is also involved in a number of initiatives to help make math, science, and engineering education more inspiring and relevant for middle and high school students. One such initiative is the Young Makers Program that supports youth in building ambitious hands-on projects of their own choosing.
You can read many technical papers about the math of Pixar movies written by Tony DeRose in the Pixar Online Research Library.