Friday, April 8, 2016

The Franklin Institute: The Science Behind Pixar

The magic of Pixar has been well known since the debut of Toy Story in 1995, fascinating audiences of all ages with their realistic animation, inspiring plot lines, and memorable characters.  Everyone has a favorite Pixar film from cooking rodents in Ratatouille and the heartwrenching post-love story in Up to the breathtaking seascapes in Finding Nemo and the bond between mother and daughter in Brave. Each Pixar movie is unique and compelling in its own way. Each one immerses you in the world of the characters so well that you soon forget that Cars can't really talk, Monsters, Inc is not really lurking in your closet, and The Incredibles are not actually out there saving the world as a family. But how does the idea of a retrieval robot in a future time period go from just an idea to a wonderful movie experience like WALL-E?

The Science Behind Pixar exhibit at The Franklin Institute has the answer, bringing visitors directly into to the creative and technical process from storyboard to rendering (and beyond!).  The exhibit demonstrates how science, technology, engineering, and math are all used in different parts of the production pipeline.  The process is amazingly complex, and its fascinating to see each part broken down into a comprehensive explanation.  The entire exhibit is interactive, giving visitors a chance to experience each part of production and drive home the idea of what happens at each stop along the creative process.

We really enjoyed the video in the beginning of the exhibit which took you on a tour of the Pixar facility and gave you a look at the faces of the company behind these amazing movies.  It also gave you a chance to hear about each production station, so once you entered the exhibit you immediately recognized them: "There's Modeling!" "Let's check out Lighting!"  Another favorite with everyone was being able to come face to face and pose for a photo with some of the most beloved Pixar characters like Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sully, and WALL-E. (We also loved the Buzz Lightyear toy box photo op!)

The Science Behind Pixar is the perfect exhibit for all ages (since the parents of today were kids themselves when Toy Story was released).  It demonstrates the incredible technology used in creating Pixar movies while continuing to highlight the creativity and human involvement in the process.  The exhibit introduces some and reminds others of the fun and practical uses of STEM education.  Using science, Pixar was able to (and continues to) find ways to push the boundaries of what is possible in animated films.  They give audiences like us relatable characters to cheer for, beautiful worlds to get lost in, and stories that will resonate with us from childhood into adulthood.




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