Edmonton Tourist: The Science Behind Pixar

img_8337.jpg

Anyone who knows me well has a sense that I am an animation fan, specifically, a Disney/Pixar fan. I spent hours in my youth drawing and creating. I had originally wanted to be a Disney Clean-up Artist. A Clean-Up Artist removes all the extra lines to reveal a polished image. It is more creative than you think and much more involved than having an eraser,

IMG_8374
You know its Woody and Buzz, but the Clean-Up hasn’t happened yet. 

For reasons that coincide with what I refer to as the Dark Times, I didn’t get out of Edmonton, never mind finding my way to Los Angeles. However, that didn’t change how I felt about the artistry of animation. The level of detail is always what pulled me in. From my first moment on Main Street in Disneyland to searching for Easter Eggs hidden in movies, I enjoy all of it. So when my son came home back in November and said, “We just saw The Science of Pixar at Telus World of Science (TWOS). I think you will love it.”

 

He was not wrong.

I had planned to go to Bon Ton Bakery with every other Edmontonian on Saturday. TWOS is down the street, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to go! Bon Ton had a line outside in the dark waiting to get in, happily, I arrived at 9:03 am after the doors opened but the wait was going to be about 30 minutes.

 

IMG_8334
I enjoy the politeness and the information of this sign. Thank you TWOS for having a cheeky sign I can relate to.

 

Baked goods in hand, I left for TWOS and decided I would not go see it if there were a million kids, I would plan on going on the Adult Only night. I wanted to be able to take my time and thoroughly experience it. I can’t do that when I am letting kids try stuff.

We walked into the foyer and we were the only people there. The place was empty. The first day of Christmas break and the building was full of staff and a handful of visitors.

The cost was $30 per person (ish- it was actually a little less) The recommend 1.5 hours to go through the exhibit. I agree. To fully experience it, you need to watch all the videos and try out the interactive parts. I found this fascinating.

The first part was the introduction video. It had a cameo of John Lasseter, I am not going to lie, his shenanigans have left a dark mark for me on Pixar. But his abuse of power does not negate his creative brilliance. Then I think, there are other brilliant people in this world and maybe it is their time to shine. At any rate, I entered with mix feelings.

The exhibit has the following steps of an animated CG film:

  • Modeling
  • Rigging
  • Surfaces
  • Sets & Cameras
  • Animation
  • Simulation
  • Lighting
  • Rendering

I participated and at every section and watched every video interaction. I was blown away by the level of detail that goes into each frame.

Modeling was the least interesting for me yet it was fascinating at the same time!

It takes place after the storyboards and character development. The clay models are used to scan and get the image into the computer program so it can be animated.

Rigging was next, this step gives movement to that character, it makes all the parts move, from facial expressions to limbs moving.

IMG_8338

Surfaces add texture, it makes McQueen shiny and Mator rusty, Skully furry and Mike smooth. Such an involved process!

Sets and Cameras, where to put the camera determines the look of the set. This was facinating. IMG_8357

Animation, I basically learned it is all stop motion on a very advanced level. I gave it a try with the Pixar lamp and learned I do not have the patience for 26+ movements per second. I took a video of it and the lamp moved in a choppy motion. Although to be fair, I didn’t have the time to really do it justice,  it was super finicky.

The Simulation was all physics. Trying to get curly hair or fur to move the way it does, in reality, was a series of equations that simulated springs. Thinking about how to achieve the end result. Problem-solving at its finest!

Lighting was cool, I played with sets and sun levels, turning on and off interior lights. possibilities were endless…

IMG_8355

Rendering blew my mind away. It basically is a mathematical equation for colouring each pixel. The guy based his math on the hydrogen bomb equation and won an Oscar for it.

This exhibit gave me my Disney fix. I hadn’t been since January 2016 and it doesn’t look like I am going anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean I am not fascinated by it all. I enjoyed wandering around and looking at the artist’s renditions. People are crazy talented and I  admire their ability.

Is it for kids? Sure kids will find it fun, but it isn’t a playroom. there are buttons to push and characters they will recognize. I think kids over 8 will get more out of it but the science and math involved will be out of range.

If you are an animation fan, Pixar or Disney fan, then this is a must-see when it gets to your neighborhood. Right now it is touring in Edmonton until January 7th and is also at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. It was developed by the Boston Museum of Science and Pixar. When it comes to your city, go see it!

The Face Painter

I read a blog this morning that reminded me of this story. Thank you Bokkie!

I was a Face Painter – when I say Face Painter I don’t mean Puddy from Seinfeld I mean I was really a FACE PAINTER. I say WAS because I don’t want Santa to call me and ask if I am interested in getting back into it. Dear Santa, NO THANK YOU! I know this does not make any sense to any of you but Santa, so I shall explain…

I grew up in one of those very lucky families where the mom worked magic and made Christmas sparkly and special. Every year, just before Christmas, our family would march around the city looking at lights, participating in special Christmas activities. We always saw the Teddy Bears at the Museum, looked at the Christmas windows at the Bay downtown, saw the Creche at City Hall. We would drive around the city at night singing Christmas Carols and looking at lights.

The best was the annual Christmas party. All of our family and friends would come to visit, laugh, sing and Santa came every year. I knew it was always my Grandpa, my sister did not. She was a Believer. It wasn’t as if I never believed, I did, but as I became older those beliefs change and morph into something else. The age gap between my sister and I is LARGE. I loved to help keep the illusion up for her. I knew who Santa was, but I sat on his knee anyway telling him how good I was that year, and he would reach into his sack and pull out a gift with my name on it. To: Edmonton Tourist Love: Santa. Written in my mom’s perfect script.

As we got older, cousins and friends moved away, the parties stopped. I missed them.

When the offspring muppets came along, and we moved into our new home, I decided I wanted to reestablish the Christmas Party Tradition. I walked around my block, knocked on doors of neighbors I did not know very well, and handed them an invitation. I invited people I did not know very well from the muppets school, and I extended the invitation to my family. It was a Family party, so there was food, special responsible drink, and Santa.

I asked each parent to bring a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it, about a $5 value, and leave it in a box hidden on the front porch. At 8:00, we heard Jingle Bells, Stomping on the porch and then the great loud “HO HO HO”! The children were enchanted! The older children were trying to puzzle out who Santa was. You could see them search the room, count the dads, look back at Santa with a quizzical look on their faces. They would never guess. I knew the REAL Santa because I was a Face Painter.

I use to Face Paint. Not the full face clown make-up. I specialized in cheek art. I drew unicorns, spiderman, puppies, you name it – I would draw it on your cheek. I had a booking agent who would slot me in great corporate venues, one for the highlight reel was The Edmonton Oilers Christmas Party. My booking agent also was an entertainer. He made/makes amazing balloon animals and hats. The big secret was, he was Santa Claus.

I would go to Christmas gigs, work for 2-4 hours, make obscene money, and come home. My children always asked who I saw. Every time I would say, Santa. He dressed liked the Coca Cola Santa, complete with the red coat to go OVER the red suit. Perfect! I would get phone calls from him to book my time, and my kids always ask who was on the phone, “Santa” I would reply. I would make arrangements for Santa to come to our home. He would always negotiate a plate of food and tin of homemade cookies. The food would be left in the box on the porch.

Santa would come and go every year. The same Santa, we have pictures to prove it. As the muppets grew older, they became more skeptical. One year we were at the Telus World of Science taking in the Christmas Lego exhibit when Chatterbox saw Santa. She knew there were fake Santas out there, but she maintained – just like my sister did years before – that SHE knew the REAL Santa. We walked up to Santa, and Santa KNEW my name. If there was a prouder moment in her life up until then, I was unaware of it. Let the bragging begin! Chatterbox’s mom KNEW the REAL Santa, so take THAT your stupid non believers. She had proof. Santa looked at my children, and thanked them for the art work they had made the previous year. It hung on his fridge and he described it back to them as proof. I had believers for a few more years because of that encounter. Thank you Santa.

Every now and then I get a phone call from Santa just to see how I am doing. When I hang up my kids say “who was on the phone?” I still answer “Santa”.

The Edmonton Tourist becomes Tour Guide!

Good News! I am back on chocolate! It is more out of necessity then preference because the Belgium Chocolate is gone and I stole a piece of Chatterbox’s Halloween candy. But I am back to normal, when I say normal I really mean frazzled. Chocolate and coffee are my current drug of choice. All is good with my world once again.

Things in my life are moving at a frantic pace. I am finding my University course interesting, yet monotonous. So much reading about the same thing. Talking to my 3 mentors makes the course very interesting. I really am thankful for them. My work is great but super busy, as always. My children’s marks are unbelievably amazing! Family health issues are starting to resolve themselves. Just when I think I have everything under-control, a giant pothole shows up and upsets the apple cart. The next little while will be filled with new adventures and I can’t wait to get started! But………

I need a distraction for about an hour. I need my mind to wander and think about other things for a brief moment in time. So my dear readers, I need your help!

At the end of the month we are having a visitor stay with us through Christmas. When I say visitor, I really mean the Evil Genius. That’s right, my step-son is paying a call from future.  When I say future, I really mean Australia. I can hear you all saying “Why would someone who has a perfectly lovely summer season coming up CHOOSE to go to Edmonton for the winter?” Good question! From what I understand about Genetic Offspring, Honey and the Evil Genius, science is their thing. Spacey science to be more exact. Edmonton is DARK in the winter, and by dark I mean the sunrises around 8:30ish and sets at 4:00ish. Perfect for seeing the Northern Lights – sorry – Aurora Borealis. I admit, it is one of my most favorite things about Edmonton too. Off our deck is the perfect view-point! Maybe light a fire in the outdoor fireplace, sit in a snow suit and wait. That’s the problem. There isn’t a set schedule, but there is a web site that offers a “forecast“. That will be helpful!

I need your help because I want to know what OTHER people want to see and do when they come to The Great White North. Here are my ideas, please feel free to edit, change and add to the list.

  1. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and wait for the Northern-lights
  2. Visit the Telus World of Science to use the observatory and check out the stars in the freezing cold.
  3. Go to an Oiler Hockey Game and possibly an Oil Kings Hockey game
  4. Shovel the side-walk
  5. Hang the Christmas lights
  6. Strap a snowboard to his feet and push him down the hill
  7. Go to the Ice on Whyte festival and check out the ice sculptures
  8. Drag the Evil Genius around town to look at Christmas lights
  9. Go Ice skating on a pond and learn what Shinny is
  10. Go see the Christmas Carole at the Citadel Theatre
  11. Go on a Sleigh Ride

I am looking forward to being the Edmonton Tour Guide for a while. I am nervous about the cold. It could be Blizzard season, no not the ice cream from Dairy Queen, a REAL BLIZZARD! Or it could be unseasonably warm, hovering around 0C . Hard to say what the weather will be like. It IS Edmonton, so if you don’t like the weather just a minute and new weather shows up. At any rate I hope the Evil Genius has a great time – or at the very least – lie to me and say it’s great 😉

So my dear readers, what would YOU like to see if you came for a visit?