On June 24, Pixar will release its 12th feature film, "Cars 2," the sequel to "Cars" from 2006. In the new film, the heroes from Radiator Springs--Lightning McQueen, Mater, and others--join the World Grand Prix, an auto race that visits exotic locales like coastal Italy and Tokyo. And then they plunge into a dark, mysterious spy story.
For one of the sequences that takes place in Tokyo, Pixar's animators and artists had to make sure the audience was treated to just the right level of the cacophony of lights that is Tokyo. In this image, and the four following, we see how a single frame representing the Tokyo sequence evolved from early work to final composition.
In this image, we see the character and camera staging created prior to animation, a process known as layout. At this point, dressing and set models are still being worked and will not be finished until animation on the frame is done.
Here, we see the last character animation poses. Both the primary and secondary characters in the frame have been keyframe animated and cars in the background have been added procedurally with a crowds software system used by Pixar.
In the final composition form of the frame, we see how virtual lights offer illumination from countless sources of light including neon signs, street lamps, and headlights. The reflectivity of the cars' bodies and the wet streets need Raytracing, a computation-heavy technique. As well, other visual details including colored fog around signs and lens flare from headlights have been added. Finally, the finished rendered image is processed at Pixar's Renderfarm and must be seen to be free of any visual artifacts.
In this image, we can see two of the effects Pixar's artists created that pushed the envelope of what's been done before in computer animation for feature films. First, we see the reflectivity off the body of the Finn McMissile car. And second, we see the high degree of detail that Pixar has crafted into the ocean water, including the wave caps, and the roughness of the open sea.