Articles, Blog

TOP 10 Hardest to Animate Things in Pixar

September 9, 2019

Hey brother! J, Pixar. Not just like the name in computer animated films but really just films in general. From incredibly original stories to lovable characters, to outstanding attention to detail, all coupled with the ambition to take every movie somewhere it’s never gone before So, today we are going to discuss the top 10 hardest to animate characters or features from Pixar films *Intro music* J in the early days of Pixar the shorts actually included an Easter egg that was always there but people really didn’t know to look for. The easter egg was always the same, but also always extremely different and that was in every Pixar short there was always an experiment. What I mean by that is all of the Pixar shorts usually included something that they were trying to animate but the technology wasn’t quite there yet for a feature-length film; for example the short Geri’s game was premiered before A bug’s life featured number 10 on our list: Humans Geri’s game was Pixar’s first stab at animating humans in a worthwhile way. Now of course we saw humans in Toy Story but even though Andy has extreme importance to the plot of the movie, he really doesn’t have that much screen time. The difficulty and cost of animating humans is the only confirmed reason we have as to why we don’t see Andy’s dad in Toy Story. The actual quote from Lee Unkrich is: “Human characters were just hideously expensive and difficult to do in those days and Andy’s dad wasn’t necessary for the story” Just how expensive do you think hideously expensive is? also I do think that there’s another reason why we don’t see Andy’s dad and that reason is polio. Full video by clicking the card But back to animating humans In the early days it was so hard to get enough detail in to make the humans look realistic and they just kind of looked plastic and what we got as a result is Toy Story Up next at number 9 is Sully’s hair All 2.3 million of them 2.3 million individual hairs! And that was back in 2001 by 2013 when Monsters U came out it was all the way up to 5.4 million Now you could be thinking and I’m sure the animators at Pixar were hoping the same that by the time Monsters U came out at least we had Sulley wearing clothes, so that should cut down on the difficulty of animating a little bit, right? But unfortunately that’s actually wrong. They had to account for all of the movements that Sulley was going to have and at any point in time the wind could blow in the movie and lift his shirt, and you’d still have to have hair underneath So, in true Pixar fashion you have to animate all of it Just in case Although it is worth mentioning that sometimes they can get away without animating something, for example in Ratatouille, none of the humans have toes Moving on to number eight, first we had humans, then we had hair, let’s just put them together with human hair, specifically Violet’s from The Incredibles I actually found this completely shocking but Violet’s hair in The Incredibles was actually the most difficult to animate feature of the entire film. This seems especially surprising when you consider Monsters Inc came out three years before The Incredibles and Sully’s entire body is covered with hair so, what made this in particular so difficult? And if it was so difficult Why was it necessary? And when I say difficult, when they started production on this movie they didn’t even know if it was possible, but they just rolled with it and eventually figured it out. What’s crazier is the reason why it’s so difficult is actually quite simple: her hair is long. Getting long hair specifically 400,000 strands of hair to kind of behave naturally is incredibly difficult to accomplish and prior to this movie it just hadn’t been done. In fact every character prior to Violet, either had very limited screen time, short hair or it was tied up in some way. But then, why was it so necessary? Well, because of Violet’s character. Throughout the entire movie, she’s very symbolically hiding behind her hair. Of course by the end of the movie she finally pulls it back and gets the guy. Spoilers. Up next is number 7: Mud Pixar has been known over the years to find very creative ways to figure out how to animate something, for example the green army men in Toy Story, they actually nailed a pair of tennis shoes to boards and just kind of walked around to see what it would look like. Or they would watch elephants walk to figure out how to make Arlo walk, or keep rats in the studio, so they can figure out their movements and behaviors, or put one of their animators in a full chef’s outfit and douse him at water to see how their clothing would look. But possibly the coolest of the breakthroughs was with mud. Well, in Cars 3 three we see it in all of the scientifically proven states of mud. Which according to Sigmund Mud, a fictional scientist I made up for this sentence, includes 1: wet, 2: kind of wet, 3: kind of dry and 4: dry. The crew really had to get their hands dirty to make this a reality. John Rish, the set designer asked the following questions: What about this material? Did we need to get across? How would we simulate it and recreate its physics? How does it move? How does it break? How does it interact with the characters? Basically they cracked it by playing with mud. And on that note we’ll move on to number six: trash bags. Sometimes the thing that’s difficult to animate is the main character. Sometimes it’s trash bags. In Toy Story 3, the animators came into the project knowing that hair again was going to be a bit of a challenge on Lotso, but what they didn’t expect to be difficult was the trash bags. According to the film’s producer Darla Anderson “It’s very difficult to create all those organic shapes. Garbage bags have to fold in and tumble out of the garbage trucks and go up the conveyor belts. The challenge was figuring out how to light the bags realistically and feel in keeping with the environment without being distracting.” Animators actually ran into a very similar issue when animating cars in well Cars. In this instance, they actually had to make them less reflective than real cars are, otherwise it would just be hugely distracting to the audience. Like I said sometimes it’s the main character and sometimes it’s trash bags. But when it’s the main character, it’s number 5: Joy. If you look closely at the emotions you can see that their physical embodiment is almost bubbly. When the crew first took a stab at animating Joy, they spent eight months trying to nail the process and eventually scrapped it saying that it was taking too much time and getting too expensive. But when chief creative officer John Lasseter at Pixar saw the animation of Joy He insisted that all of the emotions have the effect. Production designer Ralph Edelson of the project said “You could hear the core technical staff just hitting the ground, the budget falling through the roof” But it was all good. They found a way to make it work sometimes. They find a way to make it work and sometimes they figure it out too well which brings us the number four: water Pixar has broken boundaries on animating water over and over again and when they started back in Finding Nemo they weren’t sure if they were gonna be able to do it well enough and they ultimately were able to do it so well they actually had to dial it back a little bit so they didn’t cross over into the uncanny valley. A term in psychology that actually applies to animation that refers to the line between animating something so well that people appreciate it and animating it too well to where it actually seems out of place. Although they do take the animation of water to the extreme at “The good dinosaur”, where the crew again got their feet wet by going Whitewater Rafting and bringing GoPros to better understand how to animate a raging river. One GoPro in particular was knocked free from the raft and later recovered and the footage of it being swept away was invaluable in animating Arlo getting sucked under by the river. Up next at number three is Coco, with guitar strings and skeletons. Coco will not only be visually stunning but also feature some real significant breakthroughs in animation. Let’s start with skeletons, which immediately posed a huge issue to animators in terms of just basic facial expressions. Wait to figure out how to give them personality without skin muscles and noses or even lips. But then of course Pixar takes it one step further with all of the skeletal structures, also representing key story elements. For example the more remembered that character is, the more pristine, the bone structure color and paintings. Characters who are less remembered are yellowed, battered and chipped. Making things even more difficult yet was putting clothes on skeletons, where believe it or not the problem was having animated clothes getting caught on the animated skeletons. Pixar basically had to create a new and improved cloth simulation process that actually allowed digital tailors to a better animate the clothes. In addition to putting clothes on skeletons we have Miguel playing the guitar. This is impressive because he is actually playing the guitar, with all of his fingers moving independently and actually playing the notes as they would be played. This is not only difficult to animate but shows an incredible attention to detail and would not have been possible without number two: Hank Hank the septopus. Sometimes you solve the problem by figuring it out, sometimes you solve it by omitting a leg Hank is considered the single hardest to animate character in Pixar history for a lot of different reasons. Reasons number one through eight: Octopuses have a lot of legs. Reason number nine: the way they move is freaking weird. One single scene in Finding Dory, when we first meet Hank took the animators two years to complete. The almost liquid movements of Hanks arms are so significant in the field of animation we’ve already seen Pixar use it again twice: First in Lou the Pixar short and again with Dante’s tongue at Coco. And finally that’ll bring us to number one: Luxo Jr. Luxo Jr. Is an incredibly simple animation now. At the time it was unheard-of, it was impossible. John Lasseter’s first short took early and huge steps toward the world of animation as we know it today. Using computer software to calculate shadows and how they would appear over characters instead of hand shading them. It was huge not only in the field of computer animation but in traditional animation, as well it showed artists that computers weren’t going to be this thing that swept in and basically took all of their jobs but rather a new tool in their kit that they could use to take their craft to a whole new level. And personally I find that amazing, but guys for my question of the day: What is your favorite Pixar movie moment or character? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the towels section down below. These socks are amazing! Guys, as always, thanks for watching, be sure to like this video and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already. If you’d like to see our ranking, you can click right here for the movies or right here for the shorts. But J, that is all I’ve got for you today, man. I will see you on Tuesday


  • Reply Mar Cap July 7, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Wow, those trangisions are amaizing!

  • Reply Ayden Carson July 9, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Wall-E and Eve "kiss".
    They really can't kiss because they don't have lips and they're inorganic.

  • Reply Rebel Wilt July 9, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    I thought the balloons from up would be on this.

  • Reply cool_Man20103 Gaming July 15, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Luxo jr

  • Reply Richard Riley July 19, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    I love pixar

  • Reply Cade Carrizales July 20, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    My faves are Toy Story and The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.

  • Reply Andrew Guzman July 20, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    I'm surprised luxo jr. was the hardest to animate.

  • Reply sherlock XD July 23, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    The start of up

  • Reply Ford Underwood July 25, 2019 at 12:17 am

    2:29 bit can’t Pixar control the weather of their movie? So why is he acting like the movie has a mind of its own?

  • Reply Sebbe Lysklætt July 25, 2019 at 11:59 pm


  • Reply SiRKingston X July 27, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Inside out is my favorite

  • Reply Green boi August 1, 2019 at 1:15 am

    My favorite moment in The Incredibles wasn't even in the movie. It was the deleted intro and outro.

  • Reply Yis Pinto August 1, 2019 at 6:29 am

    Pixar's brave is probobly easy to animate becouse you just darkened the hair

  • Reply Chloe Potter August 1, 2019 at 7:30 am

    “Getting long hair to behave naturally is Difficult.”
    What? In Animation or real life?

  • Reply Ginger Cat August 4, 2019 at 3:50 am

    My new dream is to animate for.Pixar.

  • Reply nathn August 8, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Coco is hands down my favorite Pixar film, followed by Moana. Both are absolute masterpieces

  • Reply I’d say follow me but I forgot which website I’m on August 20, 2019 at 2:14 am

    I’m surprised the backgrounds in WALL•E weren’t mentioned

  • Reply Distorted world vs distorted land August 22, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Probably clouds and trees

  • Reply xXMickey DoodlesXx September 7, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I love how Pixar puts so much details into its animations
    Some isnt necessary
    But its still beautiful

  • Leave a Reply