The Science Behind Pixar

Mike and Sully from Monsters University

Have you ever wondered how Pixar makes the fantastic movies your kid loves? Face it; you love them too! Henry Ford Museum’s “The Science Behind Pixar” exhibit lets you interact with the science, technology, engineering, and math used to create those fabulous movies. This rotating exhibit will be at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan until March 18th, 2018. UPDATED – Currently, this exhibit is being shown at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Mike and Sully from Monsters University

Buzz Lightyear in the Science behind PixarThe Science Behind Pixar is a separate ticket. You will have to purchase a ticket for the museum first but, this will allow you to go through all the Henry Ford Museum exhibits. And there are quite a lot of them to see. There are exhibits on American innovation, memorabilia through the ages, and of course, lots and lots of automobiles. Plan to spend a few hours here to see everything. The Pixar tickets are timed so; you can look around while you wait to enter the Pixar area.

Once in the queue, the first thing you get to do is watch a short film introducing the exhibit and explaining what you will be experiencing once you are inside. Roz makes a special appearance at the end of the film. Then you are let into the exhibit. There will be a sensory overload of sound and color but, take a minute to get your bearings. The exhibition is laid out into stations, and each one is a part of how Pixar makes the movies. You don’t have to go in order especially if there is a crowd which happens right by the entrance by all the life-sized characters. It is entirely alright to skip around and then go back later when the crowd thins out.Mike and Sully from Monsters University

Pixar’s Production Pipeline

The Science Behind Pixar goes into detail of Pixar’s Production Pipeline which consists of Story & Art, Modeling, Rigging, Surfaces, Sets & Cameras, Animation, Simulation, Lighting, and Rendering. Each of these steps is thoughtfully demonstrated with interactive displays to show the science behind making the movies. What a great way to teach kids how fun science can be!Inside the Henry Ford Museum - The Science behind PixarApplying surfaces on hoods - The Science behind Pixar


This exhibit can almost be a recruiting tool for Pixar Animation Studios and Disney. Each child can play with the displays and see how the computer manipulates them to become the finished product. You can create blades of grass, change expressions on Jessie by adjusting her eyebrows, and see how long it takes to render each pixel depending on the complexity of an image. I was fascinated by everything, and I’m already an engineer. Can you just imagine how many more kids will be joining this growing field? Hey Mom, I can do this when I grow up! I want to make movies!
Designing field of grass - The Science behind PixarUse a rig to create expressions by moving eyebrows - The Science behind PixarHere are a couple more photos of Pixar characters modeled in clay. Do you have a favorite Pixar character?Joy from Inside Out clay modelRemy from Ratatouille model If you are looking for something to do with the kids this winter, check out The Science Behind Pixar exhibit. Have some fun and learn something at the same time. You can’t go wrong with an outing like this!

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