Discover some VFX secrets behind Toy Story 4

Discover some VFX secrets behind Toy Story 4

Vertex 2020, the ultimate event for 2D and 3D artists, started last evening with (what we could describe as) a remarkable talk. Obviously, in Fugitive we couldn’t miss it!

Dylan Sisson, a technical artist in Pixar’s RenderMan and the creator of the RenderMan Walking Teapot, focused on some fun facts for 3D artists, related to their work in Toy Story 4 – although even this technology has evolved since then! (They used RenderMan 21 and Version 23 is out now). Do you want to know more?

Related to the lighting of the scenes in the Pixar’s title, they used globally calibrated exposure, so depending on night-time or daytime, the lights would change accordingly. They also designed +17000 lights for the carnival scenes.

Gabby’s hair was originally blond, and It was changed to red to save rendering time, which ultimately would save cost. “In order to render blond hair, we’re not just rendering the yellow colour. We’re also reflecting the light, maybe 80 times”, Dylan Sisson pointed out. However, if they chose an opaquer colour, this bounce could reduce up to “eight times”.

A completely similar case happened with Duck and Bunny, but in this case, they didn’t change their look, because It was relevant to the story. These characters became then the most expensive, not only for their amount of fur (17 million of curve segments), but also for their neon colours.

Their most expensive frame took 325 hours to render on 4 cores, due to a chandelier bouncing light rays around a giant warehouse with 10,000 props.

In Fugitive we are personally captivated by the amazing results that RenderMan provides, not only in Toy Story 4.

We could see some examples of their work, such as the Oscar’s winner Parasite, where they used it in over 500 VFX shots:

  • The house extension
  • Replacement of the Lawn in the final scene
  • VFX Trees and Walls
  • A Digital Character

Afterwards, there was a panel which discussed photorealism vs. stylised rendering: pros and cons of different looks and the changes of the industry over the past years.

I personally missed “any” female representation in the panel.

The first evening finished with some drinks and art battles it a rooftop bar close to the event.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to attend the second day, but we totally recommend it.