Story Sculptors: Pixar-in-a-Box

April 07, 2020

It’s no secret here at the Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre that we love movies. We show all kinds of films but by far our biggest films are animated family films. Films like Frozen or The Incredibles from Disney, or The Grinch from Illumination always pack the house here at HPAC. With these films looking better and better every year there are always questions of how these films get made. With schools, business and even us at HPAC being closed we’re sure you’re spending lots of time with family watching films and TV favorites together. We want to share with you a fun look, all about how some of our favorite family films get made.

Khan Academy is a free online learning platform dedicated to providing a quality education for free to anyone. While usually known for their math curriculum (which is excellent), they also offer learning many other topics including music, business, science and yes, even animated storytelling which they call “Pixar-In-A-Box.”

“Pixar-In-A-Box” is a behind the scenes lesson inside Pixar studios where they lead you through the process of making their films from conception to reality. This includes pieces like storyboarding, character development, and 3D design to create a finished product. It starts with fun activities and conceptual exploration in “Pixar-In-A-Box: the art of storytelling” where learners can explore character design, setting,and story structure. It then moves on to a full course, complete with the production pipeline of creating computer generated animation. This is a great exploration for all-age learners which touches on language, communications and how all that geometry and algebra is used in the real world.

My personal favorites are the sections on virtual cameras and lighting. Coming from a film production background it was interesting to learn how virtual cameras work just like real ones but without any of the physical limitations. You can even put them inside of other objects in your scene. I highly recommend the “Character” section for families which consists of an activity to imagine their own characters in a story, complete with character features, wants, arcs and stakes.

It’s always a heartwarming experience to sit down and enjoy a movie with those who matter most to us. Exploring this resource can give an added appreciation of all that goes into the process of creating a feature film. We all love a good story, and the folks at Pixar have a consistent record of showcasing stellar examples of storytelling. We’ll be back soon excited to show you the latest offerings soon for everyone to enjoy together.

Stay strong, Make Art
– Michael Coney

Intro to Storytelling on Khanacademy

Production of Pixar Films on Khanacademy