How Animation Like Toy Story 4 Is Evolving to Replicate Real Filmmaking

To some degree, animation, at least in films, has always attempted to capture that cinematic feel. However, in the last few movies made by Pixar, there has been a real attempt made to replicate camera techniques and lens characteristics that seemingly most of the audience wouldn't notice.

Animation allows for limitless possibilities in visual rendering. Whether it's the unrealistic depth of field or an impossible tracking shot, animation doesn't need to rely on camera tricks, lens choices, or even capture techniques. So, why does Pixar incorporate them into their films? Just as in live-action films, the look and feel of these camera tricks elicit real emotion or unease, making the animation even more powerful.

The Nerdwriter takes a closer look in this video examining several recent Pixar films and focuses on one scene in "Toy Story 4" specifically. This particular scene replicates the uneasy feeling that something is wrong using a Split Diopter Shot. Again, this technique is one that very few people often notice is being used in films, but that effectively creates an unconscious sense of unease when viewed. This, as well as several other examples, are given to show how Pixar is evolving the art of animation, to bring it even closer to real cinematic techniques. 

Another example given is how Pixar used the camera movements in "Inside Out" to create a completely different feel when viewing the viewpoint of the main character versus what was going on inside her head. It's something so simple and often used in traditional filmmaking, yet I never picked up on it. I love learning about intricate details that go into any kind of filmmaking and are often not noticed. Knowing it may not make a difference or will most likely go unnoticed but doing it anyway really inspires me as a creative. 

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

Log in or register to post comments

Really cool! There's also a great comparison in one of the videos from the Corridor Crew talking about how the ACES color coding system allowed newer animation to substantially increase their dynamic range (starts about a minute thirty in):

You should check out the podcast “neo cine tech”. The second ep explains the process behind the new lion king. It’s very cool.