Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Technology Behind Brave

As one of the biggest movies released in 2012, Brave attracted a lot of attention from moviegoers and did fairly well in the box office. Whether it was the storyline, action, or cool special effects that maintained the viewer's focus, the film was sure to satisfy any craving. But few viewers actually know the history of the film's pre-production planning and final execution. As a student of motion graphics, I was speaking to one of my former professors regarding the influence of after effects on the movie production industry. She told me that I had no idea how important the growth of technology is to a film's final end date.

The pre-production animation for the movie, Brave, originally began in 2006; six years prior to it's cinematic release. After the release of the Pixar favorite, Monsters, Inc., the animation standard rose much higher. Simulation supervisor, Claudia Chung, wanted to create such realistic, "curly hair that almost defied gravity." The two dimensional designs were difficult to create, but the animation, however, was a completely different story. In order for the goal to be achieved, Chung's team needed new technology in order to process all of the three-dimensional information. In 2009, the animation simulator, Taz, was designed in order to form individual coils around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. As a result, each length of Merida's hair consistently snapped back into place as soon as stopped moving. Chung also mentioned that after adding "a little randomness, some gravity, and more than 1,500 hand-placed corkscrews and flyaway wisps," the viewer is left with textural hair with a depth that the audience has never seen before.

Whether you've seen Brave or not, the film stands as a major feat for the animation and movie industry. But the majority of the credit goes to Claudia Chung; she could see the end goal and knew that the technology would finally be available when her team needed it the most. Talk about a risky but fruitful outcome!

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