Pixar Artist Visits Lafayette Library

Grant Chudler, Staff Writer

Danielle Feinberg, the director of photography for 9 Pixar films, gave a presentation on the animation process at the Lafayette Library on September 25. Admission was $5 for adults and free for students. Proceeds went to supporting the library.

Feinberg grew up in Boulder, Colorado and graduated from Harvard  University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. When she was 23, she started working at Pixar on the 1998 movie A Bug’s Life. Since then, she has been on staff for 8 more Pixar movies as the director of photography for lighting. Feinberg’s work involves altering certain parts of a shot to simulate realistic light.

The presentation Feinberg gave explained the step-by-step animation process of a Pixar movie. She explained how the films start as stories, and then storyboards are made from the script. Character and background models are then created using an industry-standard animation program called “Maya.” Next, textures are added to make the world more immersive. Characters are animated as Pixar workers attempt to create life-like movement. Certain models are then brightened or darkened to create emphasis on what is important in the shot.

Animation involves many mathematical concepts such as graphing to bring the characters to life. Physics are important to create realistic movement and a believable world. Many equations are manipulated to get the movement of Pixar characters right.

Feinberg described the difficulties of animation, including the time consuming rendering process. 1 frame from Finding Nemo could take 8-80 hours to render, and 24 frames make only 1 second of animation. Pixar studios has 20,000 processing machines to calculate the animation of their movies.

Feinberg described the difficulty of animating the character Merida from Brave: “It took almost three years to do her hair,” she explained.

This was not the only time that Feinberg has discussed the topic of animation. Feinberg said, “I present at a science camp at Stanford two times a year.” She has also gone oversees to give presentations: “I went to Iceland and the Czech Republic recently to give talks.”

Most of the seats were taken for the event. One attendee was freshman Nick Johnson. Johnson said, “I enjoyed learning about the intricacies of animation… I would like to learn more about the programs that Pixar employs to produce its stunning animated films.” Senior Theodore Chudler attended as well. He said, “[The presentation] made me want to work in the animation industry.”

The majority of attendees were adults.