In the ’80s, when you wanted big hair you whipped out the Aqua Net. But it wasn’t so easy for animators. The Little Mermaid‘s Princess Ariel was meant to sport curls, but the technology just wasn’t there in 1989—rendering that kind of bounce and frizz, cel after hand-drawn cel, was all but impossible. Now, though, animated big hair is finally on the big screen in Disney/Pixar’s Brave.
The movie centers on Merida, a feisty Scottish princess on a quest to save her kingdom from a curse. To illustrate her fiery spirit, filmmakers wanted Merida’s locks to spring off the screen—”Curly hair almost defies gravity,” simulation supervisor Claudia Chung says—but Pixar’s old CG hair simulator (used in 2001′s Monsters, Inc.) wasn’t up to the task.
So in 2009 Chung’s team designed a new simulator named Taz, after the wild Looney Tunes character. It forms individual coils around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. The resulting locks stretch out when Merida runs but snap back into place as soon as she stops. Each strand is also strung through with a flexible “core curve,” like the string of a beaded necklace, that lets the coils bounce and brush against one another without unwinding.
The full story – Pixar Reinvents Big Hair for Brave
Dear Pixar: You had me at her hair…
With a resplendent mane of fiery red curls, Merinda, the hero of Pixar’s latest animated feature “Brave” is truly the hallmark of a princess whose time has come. And not just because the animation of her volume of hair required a technological breakthrough, which it did.
Six years in the making, Merinda is the first female protagonist to join Pixar’s all-male cast of leading heroes, breaking the mold of the damsel-in-distress princess archetype that punctuates virtually all films produced by Pixar’s predecessor, Disney.
Associate producer Mary Alice Drumm describes “Brave” as a movie about redefining expectations for female protagonists:
“I think when people think about a girl as a hero, they think less strong, less brave. But Merida is brave like her father and brave like her mother. She’s a very relatable person, and I think people are going to have some interesting things to talk about after they see the movie.” ~SFGate
Producer Katherine Sarafian adds:
“There’s the bravery of adventure, with sword fights and chases and all that,” she says. “Then there’s the bravery of being seen for who you are. If you see yourself in a certain way and the rest of the world sees you in another way, that’s a struggle. It’s brave to look at who you are and speak your truth and find your way in the world.” ~SFGate
Brave opens June 22, and although its leading lass is garnering attention for her gender, Sarafian says the film is still a Pixar movie, with “big action, big heart, big humor, big adventure.”
If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?
Pixar’s Oscar nominated short, “La Luna,” will premiere in front of Brave — in US theaters June 22.
La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family’s most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?
La Luna is directed by Enrico Casarosa and produced by Kevin Reher