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The Science Behind Animation

When most people think about science, they don’t often associate it with cartoons. Mathematics doesn’t usually conjure up exciting visuals of Toy Story or Finding Nemo. But maybe it should? The truth is, STEM subjects are so exciting. They open up a whole world of possibility for students. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics are the scaffold that holds up all creative processes. This is especially true in the world of animation and the Hong Kong Science Museum, together with Pixar animation are hosting an exciting expo to show us how.

Photo Source: Disney Magical Kingdom Blog The idea behind the museum is to demonstrate how the great minds at Pixar use science and computer technology to bring our favourite animations to life. The original idea was developed by the Museum of Science, Boston. They worked with Pixar Animation Studios to show us ‘behind the scenes’ of how using STEM concepts can quite literally create a whole new world. The exhibition takes us through Pixar's technical process step by step, introducing the eight technical processes and the underlying scientific principles that help to create the movies we know and love. Some of these steps include modeling, rigging, surfaces, sets, cameras and of course, animation.

Computer scientist Tony DeRose, of Pixar Animation Studios was quoted as saying, "There is indeed a lot of mathematics behind the scenes." Every Pixar movie we know and love is created entirely on computers. Mathematicians use trigonometry to help the characters move around the screen. Algebra is used to create the special effects that make animation so captivating and exciting. The incredible lighting we see in our favourite animated films is made possible through integral calculus equations. The end product is glitzy and glamorous but at the heart of it all, lies STEM. The very concepts our students are taught in the classroom every single day. To be able to imagine the endless possibilities that a good scientific framework can offer our students is exciting and inspiring. We want these lessons to cement the foundation for students but also to ignite a passion that can unleash their individual strengths and lead them down a multitude of different career paths.

It’s important for students to understand the applications of STEM concepts beyond the book itself and how they work cohesively. The world of STEM is alive with possibility and has the potential to unlock so many stimulating career opportunities for our students. As the world continues to evolve, science and technology becomes increasingly pivotal in the career market. Students who have mastered the basics are equipped with a massive advantage and are faced with a multitude of opportunities. According to the federal Bureau of Labour Statistics, people in STEM careers throughout 2020 earned more than double that of non-STEM workers. It is forecast that STEM based earning potential is expected to grow at more than twice the rate of other occupations in the upcoming years. We encourage our students to take advantage of this exciting museum while it is here. Learning should be fun and exciting and this museum is an excellent demonstration of how it can be both!


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