How Pixar’s Animation Has Evolved Over 24 Years, From ‘Toy Story’ To ‘Toy Story 4’ | Movies Insider


Woody: There’s no place like home! [Narrator] This is a dog
in 1995’s “Toy Story.” It was a staggering
achievement at the time, but the detail in the
fur just isn’t there. Compare that to this cat in “Toy Story 4.” The difference is clear. But getting from that dog to this cat required a lot of innovation in between. Pixar forever changed animation
in 1995 with “Toy Story,” the first full-length
computer-animated movie. With “Toy Story 4,” it’s proving that it’s far from done changing the game. Between 1995 and 2019, Pixar has made 21 feature-length films, four of those being “Toy Story” movies. When “Toy Story” was
first released in 1995, nobody had ever seen
anything like it before. And in order to bring it to life, the animators had to do
some unbelievable things. And one of the most important factors in how Pixar makes its magic
happen involves rendering. Rendering saves the computer image to the perfect finished
image or video frame, with lighting and motion effects. In order to render “Toy
Story,” the animators had 117 computers running 24 hours a day. Each individual frame
could take from 45 minutes to 30 hours to render,
depending on how complex. There were a total of 114,240 frames to render. Throughout the movie, there are
over 77 minutes of animation spread across 1,561 shots. They had to invent a new
software, called Renderman, to handle all this footage. Woody: These guys are professionals. They’re the best! [Narrator] According to
producer Jonas Rivera, if they had to today, they
could render “Toy Story” faster than you could
watch the entire movie. However, the complexity of “Toy Story 4” means it can take 60 to 160
hours to render one frame. And there were a lot of limitations. For instance, at this time,
Pixar hadn’t quite figured out how to fully animate human characters. Animating clothes was time-consuming, so you’ll notice a lot of
shots of hands and feet in the movie from a toy’s perspective. Additionally, they would sometimes choose not to fully light characters, so you wouldn’t see any missing details. More on lighting characters
and fully clothing them later. When “Toy Story 2” came around in 1999, they’d had some time to
work out some of the kinks, especially with 1998’s “A Bug’s Life” in between the two movies. In this sequel, you’ll be
able to see more visible, fully formed human characters. One key thing the animators
were starting to figure out here to help them tackle humans: smoothness, which they got practice
on in “A Bug’s Life.” Here, you can see the
improvement in just a few years. They wouldn’t be ready to
have a fully human cast until 2004’s “The Incredibles.” But before mastering humans,
they stepped into fantasy with 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.” Worker: Ooh, they’re so awesome! [Narrator] In “Monsters, Inc.”
they tackled fur head-on. Fur is hard to animate, whether computer-generated or stop-motion. This is because it involves
animating thousands, or even millions, of individual
parts of a character’s body. In the VFX world, characters are designed then rigged by adding points of movement, which can then be manually manipulated. While limbs are typically
manual based on the scene, something like fur needed to be automated, since it would take a
lot more time to move each individual strand of hair. “A Bug’s Life,” which centers on insects, didn’t have a need for fur. And there is a dog in “Toy
Story,” but as you’ll notice, it’s pretty smooth, as is
the dog in “Toy Story 2.” Sully, who’s tall and
covered head to toe in fur, has over 1 million hairs on his body. But it’s not just how it looks; the animators had to get
all of those hairs to move. To do this, they created a
program called Simulation, in which certain elements
that are too difficult to hand-animate are motion-simulated. See, instead of looking at
Sully’s hair as a whole, they looked at each strand
as a distinct particle. They had to look at every kind of force that would act on those particles, and thus how each one would
move in reaction to them. So if you want to work at Pixar, you might need to know physics. They also found real-world
fur on different animals, like llamas, for reference. By doing this, they found
the best way to make hair look and move realistically
is to clump it together. “Monsters, Inc.” laid down
the technical foundation, which allowed Pixar to have
over 250 furry monsters in the sequel, “Monsters University.” The tools at their
disposal also helped them create fur on animals seen
in “Ratatouille” and “Up,” the moss on the submarine from
this scene in “Finding Nemo,” and the grass on the ground in “Cars.” Pixar’s next movie, 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” also required the
animators to create things they’d never put on screen before. This time, they had to figure
out how to make a movie set largely underwater. Once again, science and
real-world references would help them out. Just as they did with hair,
they broke down the water as much as they could to get it right. According to director of
photography Danielle Feinberg, they started with a
real-life underwater clip, re-created it in the computer, and broke it down to find
the most essential elements. The biggest one? Light, and
how it travels through water. The light they created
affected both the visibility and the color of the film’s
elaborate underwater world. And while they need science to animate certain elements of a movie, there are times where they
can use artistic license. For instance, they made
the water in Sydney Harbour look fairly green to fit
the mood of the scene. In reality, it would not be that color. Once the environment was created, they had to populate the world. Perhaps the most challenging
sea creature they had to create was Hank the octopus from the
2016 sequel, “Finding Dory.” It was literally impossible
for them to put Hank in “Nemo,” and you can see why. Creating just one scene with him supposedly took about two years. Character supervisor
Jeremy Talbot explained that they had to break down an octopus and piece it back together again, which sounds a lot like how
Pixar mastered fur and water. One thing they discovered
was that octopus tentacles don’t bend but almost unfurl. An engineer spent six months just getting the curve of one of his tentacles right, and this was even before
they mastered his camouflage. And as Pixar got better at
developing the natural world, it also improved on the man-made world. By the time 2006’s “Cars” came around, Pixar had about 1,000
times the computing power it did on “Toy Story.” “Cars” gave the animators a
chance to hone their skills creating metal surfaces. As they did with the
water in “Finding Nemo,” they took time to make the light reflect off Lightning McQueen. Those metal surfaces
would then be rusted up and seen in 2008’s
“Wall-E,” often considered one of Pixar’s most
visually stunning works. Then when “Ratatouille”
rolled around in 2007, Pixar combined its ability to work with fur from “Monsters, Inc.” and with water in “Finding
Nemo” to display wet fur. Lighting is one of the
most important factors in making CG animation look real. It takes a lot of rendering
time to get it right. And it’s not just one or two
lights we’re talking about. This one shot alone in
“Ratatouille” contained 230 lights. But that’s nothing. Jump ahead to 2017’s “Coco.” When Miguel enters the Land of the Dead, he’s laying his eyes on
about 8 million lights. And even with a movie as
visually ambitious as this one, something as simple as clothes
can be the biggest challenge. A lot of the characters
that wore clothes in “Coco” were actually skeletons. The animators found that
while simulating clothing, the cloth would often get
caught between individual bones, creating a wedgie of sorts. For this, it implemented a technique called continuous collision detection, which allowed the animators to spot the clothes getting caught, even at moments where it
was difficult to notice. A year later, when the long-awaited
“Incredibles 2” came out they were back to working with
humans: skin, bones, and all. There was a 14-year gap between
the two “Incredibles” movies and the benefits of improved technology actually allowed them to make Jack-Jack look even cuter than he
did in the first movie. All of these movies would
eventually lead to “Toy Story 4.” Twenty-four years after
the original was released, it seems like this sequel is
trying to do a lot of things the original just couldn’t. The differences couldn’t be more stark. While “Toy Story” used
a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, “Toy Story 4” expanded to 2.39:1, so what you saw went from this to this. Now that Pixar had figured out how to put fur on one character
and then hundreds more, it could make the animals
in this movie eye-popping. Fans pointed out that a
cat in a clip for the movie looked 100% real. Compare that with Sid’s
dog in the original if you really want to know
how far Pixar has come. Even just compare how
much different it looks from the cat in “Coco.” In the same vein, creating
stuffed animals covered in fur was not the challenge it once was, and it allowed Pixar to give
Ducky and Bunny starring roles. In addition, rain scenes
are not easy to animate. Just like with the
water in “Finding Nemo,” the animators did a physics-centered, frame-by-frame analysis of raindrops. Luckily, they’d done
enough creating rivers in “The Good Dinosaur” that
bringing a torrential downpour to life was a little less challenging. Like with Jack-Jack in “Incredibles 2,” the animators use sequels as an excuse to improve upon their classics. They didn’t just give
Bo Peep a new outfit; they were also able to make her look like a much more convincing doll. Years of perfecting shiny surfaces allowed them to really bring
out Bo’s porcelain skin. To effectively light this material, the director of photography referenced lighting of female characters in movies made from the 1930s through the 1960s. The team also realized they couldn’t use square lights on Bo. Only circular lights without sharp edges would reflect well on porcelain. “Toy Story 4” also gave Pixar a chance to do something surprising:
go back to basics. Look no further than Forky. Forky: I don’t belong here! [Narrator] There are no tentacles, no fur, no shiny surfaces here,
just a plastic fork. But he couldn’t be more real. And Pixar isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, they’re moving
“Onward,” literally.

Comments 100

  • What behind-the-scenes element do you want to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Toy Story 1995 Toy Story 2 1999 Toy Story 3 2010 and Toy Story 4 2014 are my favorite Disney Pixar Movies I always like Toy Story it is a cool Disney Pixar Movies 😃😆😀

  • RenderMan exists from the first Toy Story, yeah and for every movie you are more or less forced to build "in-house" programs to do problem-solving. That's how CGI's most innovations are born.

    Coco's dog and cat… they had a different style, nothing really pertaining to technical upgrade.
    Same for the lights in Coco, them using path-tracing means they can use as many lights as they want. The ambitious is in the clothes and animation.

    But, yeah, Toy Story 4, with RenderMan 21 and Houdini simulating… that's STUNNING really.

  • I swear Toy Story 4 was made from Japan

  • Pixar still doesn't do photorealistic human beings yet!

  • the dedication is amazing

  • New Bo Peep is hella thicc

  • Reupload toy story 4
    Download the video
    Bring your computer in your time machine
    Go to 1995
    Quickly get a job at Pixar
    Somehow upload toy story 4
    Come back to 2019
    Swim in your gold from your vault

  • It’s still weird how this was founded by the same gentleman who invented apple.

  • I remember when first time I watch the good dinosaur. Jaw dropped
    The animation looks so realistic & beautiful

  • pixar never let us down since childhood. im 21 still cried on toy story 4 like my childhood days.

  • apple pencil at 7:49, still never saw a Samsung pen at Pixar, just saying.

  • From start to antic store toy story 4 deos not look very impressive but from that point to end of the movie, it's absolutely a visual marvel.

  • 6:10 6 months to do one curve.

  • A very interesting piece. Glad this report was done. Specially when Disney+ is about to be launch

  • 5:07 is the middle of this video

  • Duck and Bunny hahahaha

    You mean Key and Peele?

    (It's a joke, handle a joke)

  • I just say 1:43

  • Holy crap hat dog is terrifying

  • You… you really need to check The Witness from Love death and robots. is not about how REAL the CGI or the 3D model can be .. but the lifelikeness of the animation. ToyStory and pixar are amazing, not because they look real (they arent) but because they try and create new techniques to make their CG world more stuffed with real life physics and ilumination. and thats awesome

  • Ok yeah, Toy Story 4 is kinda sad.. But no ending could possibly beat the ending of Toy Story 3

  • Alright fine, The graphics of the first animation is bad, but nothing can beat Nostalgia

  • they did not mention Inside Out in this video😠

  • I honestly thought Bo Peep was plastic

  • Literally, i respect pixar sooo much like maybe im from a later gen but Disney is nothing compared to pixars movie making details. I know disney acquired pixar but yall get my point

  • RenderMan existence predate Toy Story. Renderman was launched in 1988, it wasn't invented for this movie, but this movie made it famous.

  • From an animation point of view, Im super glad Toy Story 4 exists…but from a narrative point of view, they should have left well enough alone.

  • OMFG your voice reminds me of @Chills and it's quite shill, so monotone

  • rendering doesn't work like that

  • That's why I can not remain quiet when someone says Pixar is like Disney. NO WAY I would shut up on that one.

  • Honestly, for Pixar's 25th or 30th anniversary, I'd love to see a shot for shot remake of Toy Story with modern day graphics.

  • im not crying your crying!!

    there must be onions near by

  • 7:41 that's a macintosh computer

  • the first toy story was in "1995"

    -made me old.. .
    much older than I thought..

  • I shouldn't watch this because all the Pixar movies looked the same in my mind from the first to last hahaha

  • Animated movies are seriously under appreciated

  • This didn't address the ray tracing in toy story 4. Ray tracing is a revolution in lighting affects, it's just starting to become a thing on video games also.

  • Imagine if they redid the first toy story with new animation. Like, they keep the original voice tracks and all and the scenes are exactly the same but the animation is updated. Would love to see how that would look.

  • i'd love to see pixar "remake" toy story 1 using their new tech, just so we can really see how much of a difference it made beyond just comparing the first movie with the last one

  • Now that I look back at the first Toy Story, the animation was kinda bad

  • Always funny to see someone who doesn't know much about CGI try to explain things as if they know how its works and bases their 'expertise' on the DVD extras which are nothing more then hype for some proprietary tech some company has (in this case Pixar).

    Rendertimes are expressed by how long it took to render 1 frame on 1 node (aka 1 machine/CPU) not on the whole renderfarm.
    Hiding the details in background characters had nothing to do with their inability to convincingly animate them… Those are 2 completely separate things. Its just a trick used in production to save a lot of time (which is still done today and also used and classical film making and not limited to characters).
    Pixar not having good tech implemented yet to animate characters (in an acceptable way) was not a limitation of the animators (it had been done before by then by other companies/software having the tech capable of doing this, just look at terminator 2 or Jurassic park), but a time/budget limitation and the TD's (technical directors) hadn't implemented the required rigging tools/capabilites in Pixar's own software yet. As hair in CGI doesn't work by calculating the physics for each individual hair… you only need to calculate for a lot less guide lines and make the rest of the hairs move based on those guide hairs. So, no… They didn't need to calculate the physics for those 1.000.000 hairs…

    The narrator keeps saying the animators had to create this and that… That is not how it works… Animators are the people who make things move by manipulating the rigs etc, but they do not research and develop/code the tools/software, nor do they create the rigs used to animate the characters most of the time. They even don't model or texture shade/those models… or light and render the scenes. Even after the rendering there is a bunch of other people working on it (compositors, editors,…). Those are all different jobs and not just 'animators'. This is called the pipeline.
    I think the Pixar animators do produce amazing animations, but the other guys also deserve credit for the often groundbreaking work they do (funny the narrator fails to mention the real groundbreaking stuff, but thats probably too technical), not just the animators.

  • I never noticed how bad toy story’s graphics were until they compared that to toy story 4

  • I REALLY don't remember Toy Story looking that bad-

  • Im 29 years old last night i was watching Toys story 4. LOVE MY LIFE

  • Hey, Was the movie is Toy Story & WALL-E this be etc know of Fork & Spoon is Toy story 4 too on was moving WALL-E…. 🤔🤔😯😮

  • It took 60 to 100 hrs to render 1 frame? 1 FRAME!? Ok.

    If we say it takes an average of 100 hrs to render 1 frame, and there's 24 frames of animation per second, that means it would take 100 days to render 1 second! (100 hrs/frame x 24 frames/second x 1 second = 100 days/second)

    And if we say the standard movie is 2hrs, that means it would take 720,000 days to render the entire movie (100 days/sec x 3,600 sec/hr x 2hrs) = 720,000 days.

    And THAT means it would take you roughly 2,000 YEARS to render the movie! (720,000 days / 365 days/year) = 1972.6 years. Even if you're animating on TWOS it would still take 986 years.

    Either this is crazy or I am. or both

  • Bruh, I really didn't remember Toy Story looking so… dated

  • Even as a kid I thought the dog looked stupid

  • Toy Story 4 was visually gorgeous. The ending scene where Woody was saying goodbye to his friends looked amazing.

  • Don't get me wrong Disney has done A LOT for Pixar but personally I kinda wish that they were still independent from Disney. Sometimes I feel like Disney suffocates Pixars creative ability.

  • This video gave me so much nastalgia, I can’t wait for Disney plus

  • Pixar and ILM revolutionized CGI.

  • The water and hair animations always get me

  • I wonder what it looks like pixar recreating Toy Story 1 and 2 using the technology they used in Toy Story 4.

  • There actually is hair on Forky his arms are made of pipe cleaners pipe cleaners have small hairs on them.

  • wow I never realized how complex and painstaking it is to make an animated feature length film! The people who work for these big studios are hard working folk to give us audience the best experience!

  • Toy Story 4 graphics surely looks awesome and the lighting is superb… But it looks way gloomier than previous toy story.

  • The narrator's voice is so grating.

  • I feel bad watching this in pirated version.

  • shame on ppl who download those awesome animation in ilegal website for free

  • Couldn't watch the whole clip. The narrator uses the most boring, bland and annoying intonation of voice a human can possibly utter. Most of sentences in the voice over are split into at least two parts, sometimes more. All of this talking sounds so artificial and out of place that I can't stand watching this.

  • petition for pixar to remake the first toy story and see how much the can improve the movie

  • In that clip you used from Toy Story you can actually see one of the blinking errors that occur regularly in the film. Its hardly noticable but iys definitely there

  • holly molly
    I'm planning studying animation, so this helps a lot!

  • why does everyone who makes these videos sound like they're testosterone levels are in the DANGER ZOOOOOOOOOOOONEEE

  • the animation was great, but toy story 4 pissed me off because it was so unnecessary.

  • The biggest improvement is the new Aces rendering plugin, which widens the HDR range from 5 stops to 24 stops. And that allows for that true to life light scatter and environment lighting without the need for dozens of fill lights. It is available in blender, if you want to try it. Truly a revolutionary piece of software. Works with cuda and tensor cores.

  • that cat ohmy looks so real

  • Does anyone know the name of the background music?

  • Acting like a 21:9 aspect ratio in 2019’s Toy Story 4 is significant when they’ve literally been making films in that aspect ratio since 1998 lmao

  • 5:29 tries to make a point by contradicting himself, even shows footage of the contradiction.
    I live in Sydney, the water in the harbour was spot on, it's green, they didn't just take "artistic licence to set the mood". These idiots annoy me, they don't actually bother to do research then just report bullshit as facts.

  • why dont i remember the toy story animation to be so cheap 😭🦶

  • Honestly I think Thad toy story 4s ending sucked because it was a movie in a universe if the movie was on its own then this makes sense but it has movies Thad come before it wich completely contradict everything woody does in this movie

  • Big respect to everyone who is part of the production team. Always love to know behind the scenes

  • I realize that toy story characters is older than me

  • blender 2.8 along with eevee makes a big change

  • I wonder what it will be like in 100 years…

  • I don't know what blows my mind more- the animation, or that it's been 24 years.

  • The level of detail and texture in toy story 4 is insane. Some things looked like a real life image

  • You forgot to mention how cars was the first movie to use Ray Tracing, the reason the reflections look so right, and that Monster`s University is the first pixar movie fully rendered using Ray Tracing and how that Improved Global Ilumination drastically.

  • If graphics back then were so good in movies, why weren’t video games graphics that good? Also if graphics were that good in animated movies back then, then why aren’t there any animated movies now with extremely life like graphics?

  • The realism behind Ducky and Bunny's fur is absolutely insane. They felt like plush toys.

  • Music (8:06)?

  • Just the opening scene of Toy Story 4 is visually phenomenal. The rain looks real, and the way the water looks on Woody. The attention is detail in the antique shop is incredible, from the main shop area to behind the cabinets with the dust and cobwebs.

  • I liked Andy, now I think I'm gay for Little Bo Peep.

  • Toy Story first released in 1994. I feel so old.

  • How did thay make gabby gabby

  • Ahh……the good old days

  • Is anyone else crying knowing how much sweat and blood have been put into making these characters come to life.

  • Is this some mandela effect wtf

  • The out of Nowhere. People at Sony decide to stop making CG animation movie looks real but making them like a comic book in 3d environment.

  • 114,240 divided by 24 (frames per second) = 4760 (79 minutes, 20 seconds) So cool!!!! 😀

  • To dog looks like it’s just been painted

  • I didn't like this film

  • i remember when steve harvey looked like a potato in the OG toy story

  • 7:28 Naked Bone ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  • Toy story 4 is the most beautiful animation I ever saw. Before that was coco but TS4 is a completely difrent league. The most impressive thing on it is the lights, the light on this film is one the best on cinema ever.

  • I don't know man…

    My dog looks like that so I digress.

  • I used to want to be an animator

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