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With 'Brave,' Pixar pushes its technology farther than ever (pictures)

With each of its new films, the hit-making studio tries to raise the bar for the realism of its animation. On 'Brave,' that meant building new software for generating curly hair, thick fur, and more.

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Daniel Terdiman
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Hair progression

Merida, the main character in Pixar's "Brave" (opening June 22), has thick, curly locks. Pixar's animators had to work hard to get her hair to react properly as she moves around and bumps into things. The same went for other elements in the film, such as bear fur, multiple layers of clothing, and water in a river. To overcome these challenges, the studio created a new software tool capable of updating what it can do with such animation.
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Brushing Merida's hair

Art from Pixar's "Brave," showing Merida, the film's main character, having her red, curly hair getting brushed by her mother.
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Merida hair

Another piece of art showing Merida and her hair.
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Merida, her hair, and her dress

A look at an early rendition of Merida, her red hair, and her flowing dress, from Pixar's new film "Brave."
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Angus and his fur

A computer model of Merida's horse, Angus, and his complex hair.
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Merida riding Angus

When Merida rides Angus, her hair flows, as does that of the horse. Animators at Pixar had to figure out how to ensure that the audience doesn't get distracted by unrealistic movement of any of that hair or fur.
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Shader packet

A look at the construction of Merida's dress.
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Fergus and his neck

Pencil drawings of Fergus, Merida's father, from Pixar's "Brave."
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Dress template

A template for the construction of Merida's dress.
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Dress drawings

A look at drawings of Merida's formal dress, from Pixar's "Brave."
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Royal family lineup

Drawings of the royal family from Pixar's "Brave."
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Elinor portrait

A portrait of Queen Elinor, the mother of Merida, the main character in "Brave."
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Fergus

A digital painting of King Fergus, Merida's father.

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