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All images: ©Disney/Pixar

The cover story of the June issue of Wired is about the Pixar creative process and the making of Toy Story 3. I encourage you to check it out. Here’s one particularly amazing fact:

The average frame (a movie has 24 frames per second) takes about seven hours to render, although some can take nearly 39 hours of computing time. The Pixar building houses two massive render farms, each of which contains hundreds of servers running 24 hours a day.

7 hours for 1/24th of a second of a 90+ minute movie. And that doesn’t include all the drafts required to get to the final rendering stage:

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COLOR SCRIPTS It took art director Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi one week to create this impressionistic digital version of the scene. The goal is to begin to define the style and lighting scheme of the frame. Concept art from past movies is on display in the Pixar art gallery.

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PROPS Toys are positioned in the 3-D “dressed set.” The TS3 team wanted the nursery to be alive with movement, so hundreds of characters are placed on the shelves. Now the director can fine-tune the camera’s movement to best capture the action.

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LAST DETAILS The amount of labor spent on each character depends on its prominence in the final shot. Background toys are given simple textures and basic movements, while Lotso and Woody—the stars of the scene—are lavished with attention.

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FINALE Surfaces—walls, clothing, faces—are fed through rendering software that simulates light and shadow. It also adds texture to Lotso’s fur, Barbie’s leggings, and the carpet. An average frame takes more than seven hours of computing time to render. A more complex frame like this one required eleven hours.

Read the whole thing here.

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