At Pixar Animation Studios, which will release "Toy Story 3," its 11th feature film, on Friday, each new movie is an opportunity both to notch huge box office numbers and to break new ground in the technique of using computers in digital animation.
To veteran Pixar watchers, the latter dynamic should by now be very familiar. With "Finding Nemo," the studio had to figure out how to use its technology to craft believable underwater scenes. With "Monsters Inc.," the challenge was animating the characters' lush fur. In "Cars," it was determining how to use procedural animation to avoid having to manually animate each of the 300,000 fans in a giant stadium. And with last year's Oscar-winning "Up," the task was finding a way to make thousands of helium balloons hoisting the main character's house take on the characteristics of realistic physics without having to manually animate each and every one of them.
"The whole deal with our films, from our point of view, is that we want you to be enveloped in the emotion and the storytelling and not think about the effects," said Darla Anderson, the producer of "Toy Story 3." We hope that you notice [the effects] maybe the fifth time you watch it...but most of the time we just want to entertain you and envelope you."
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