Closing the Circle with Toy Story 3
"So for the new system we actually built a 3D model in place so we don't have to do all the cutting and original panels. And then the modeler figures out how to take it and unfold it back out to then prepare the actual cloth for simulation because the simulator really has to know where the stitches are or where the areas are with more or less thickness, so that he can do more realistic simulation. We did a lot of development to assist the modeling people. And today we have a lot more people that can use cloth. Our goal was to have every modeler (30 or 40 people) to do cloth. As long as they have a good eye for proportions in 3D, the system will do the rest."
Of course, the other noticeable improvement was with the human characters, especially Andy, who is now 17, his mother and Bonnie, a new kid with her own collection of marvelous toys.
"Lee wanted to definitely improve the quality of our humans, so we did a lot of work with the modeling, rigging and shading of our humans," Quaroni adds. " For us, what's really important is to hit certain expressions, emotional moments."
Not surprisingly, Andy was a long process. "We rebuilt young Andy for the golden age sequence," Quaroni admits. "We couldn't stand the old Andy -- but we figured the audience would understand. You might not realize this but every model we build is perfectly symmetric. It's much easier to build one side and reflect everything to do the work once. And then as soon as the model is loaded into the system, we apply certain animation controls to break it up so you never see a face, even when in the rest pose, is perfectly matching. That's a big struggle when sculpting Big Baby or Andy."
Unkrich says they talked a long time about how to make the final scene work between the humans so that it would be believable and stirring. "What you see in the film is the end result of an enormous amount of work on the part of designers, modelers, animators, lighters, all across the board," Unkrich reflects.
"It closes the circle nicely," Quaroni observes.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.