There are many steps that the crew of an animated film must take before they finalize any single frame. Yesterday, Disney/Pixar released an example of scene progression in Cars 2, where the main characters are driving through the streets of Tokyo. It presents a fascinating look at five of the steps that are taken, leading up to a nicely polished image. Each step has a description and a hi-res image of the progression, which you can view here.
Progression 1 of 5:
Tokyo is the first stop in the World Grand Prix where Lighting McQueen, Mater and the Radiator Springs gang experience many new wonders of their global adventure – a Kabuki performance, Sumo wrestling, the glow of neon on the streets, and the glamorous race kickoff party. It is here that Mater is mistaken for an American secret agent, and is propelled into the world of global espionage. The Tokyo race sequence alone took over 1400 storyboards to portray the action involved.
Progression 2 of 5:
This frame shows the camera and character staging that precedes animation, known as Layout. The set models and dressing are still in progress and will be finalized once animation is completed.
Progression 3 of 5:
This frame shows the final character animation poses. The primary and secondary characters are keyframe animated. Background cars that populate the road are added procedurally using a crowds software system.
Progression 4 of 5:
The character and set shading encompasses the color, texture and material attributes of every surface, and determines how surfaces will respond to lights. In the world of “Cars,” graphics play a big role in the shaded scene, especially with the many neon signs in Tokyo.
Progression 5 of 5:
Virtual lights provide illumination from thousands of light sources such as street lamps, headlights and neon signs. The reflective car bodies and wet street require a computationally intensive technique called Raytracing. Additional visual details such as lens flare from headlights and colored fog around the signs are added. The final rendered image is computed on a Renderfarm and has to be free of any visual artifacts.
It is interesting to get an inside look at the journey of the image that we will see on the big screen when the film hits theaters on June 24. We will have much more coverage of the behind-the-scenes work on Cars 2 coming up in the next few weeks. Believe us when we say that we have a ton to share!