The Science Behind Pixar – Review

Debuting at Boston’s Museum of Science in June of 2015, “The Science Behind Pixar” explores the technology, engineering, and science that creates Disney and Pixar animated films. Included in the exhibit are popular films, such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc., A Bug’s Life, WALL-E, and Finding Nemo, to name a few.

This interactive exhibit is 10,000-square-foot, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF), and was developed by the Museum of Science and Pixar Animation Studios, with support from NSF). With more than 40 interactive features, the exhibit isn’t lacking in hands-on experience and visitor interactivity.

The exhibit is currently at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, opening to the public on Saturday, March 12, and staying until September. I visited the exhibit the following day after it premiered, and as an avid Disney lover, I was very satisfied.

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Exhibit banner in The Franklin Institute

Upon entering the exhibit, you are greeted by Mike and Sully, the main characters in Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully are in their Monster’s University attire and propped on a Monster’s University set, complete with scream canisters. On a screen next to the models, there is a video that shows Sully walking, while his technological makeup changes.

 

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Mike and Sully life-size models

Continuing through the exhibit, many other models and sculptures can be seen. Characters such as Eve (WALL-E), Anger (Inside Out), and Remy (Ratatouille) are on display in small models.

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One of the Brave twins, human and bear form models

Another life-size model can be seen close to the entrance, and it’s none other than Star Command’s finest space ranger, Buzz Lightyear! Buzz is perched on a wooden stage, and also has a screen next to him showing his computer makeup. Make sure to strike a pose with Buzz and yell “to infinity and beyond!”

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Life-size Buzz Lightyear model (Toy Story)
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Buzz Lightyear computer model

In addition, other props can be found from Pixar classics. The large tapestry of Merida’s family in Brave can be found hanging on one of the walls.

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Brave family tapestry (Brave)

A large WALL-E model can be found in front of a backdrop of WALL-E’s truck. There is a camera that is aimed at WALL-E, so you can view a video of the person posing with WALL-E on a separate screen. The kids got a kick out of viewing their mom or sibling on live video.

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WALL-E model (WALL-E)

Let your kids travel under the ocean with a large Dory model. There are buttons on a control panel in front of Dory, which allows the lights behind Dory to change from red, to blue, and a few other colors. With a beautiful ocean backdrop, this is a prime photography spot!

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Dory model (Finding Nemo)

Many activities are on display for visitors to try out, such as adjusting light and seeing the differences between direct light, shadow lighting, and indirect light. You can push buttons for different types of light, and see the result behind a glass case of round objects.

Another activity allows the user to choose a Pixar character from Woody, Mrs. Incredible, and Eve and see how their rigging motion works. After picking a character, you can pick how their arm moves, and see how many different ways are required to move a characters arm in different positions.

Many interesting facts are displayed throughout the exhibit, related to the process and time required to complete certain objectives.

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An Inside Out fact

In addition, a few areas featured solely Inside Out. The main area is in the shape of a circle, and displayed the different stages of creating Inside Out. This area included stations, and each station had a TV screen above a board with information and pictures on that stage. The stages included modeling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting, and rendering.

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How Joy was brought to life with different stages (Inside Out)

Concept art for various films could be found in the last room of the exhibit. These drawings are crucial, they help build the idea and appearance of the characters, and aid the animators in creating the character.

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Brave concept art
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Inside Out concept art

 

There are many more and activities, art, models, and videos in the exhibit, but I won’t spoil all the fun. Whether you’re a fan of Disney, science, engineering, art, math, or technology, you will find something that interests you at the exhibit. With more than 40 interactive exhibit features based upon beloved Disney and Pixar films, the Science Behind Pixar provides a unique look into classic movies that are loved by all.

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