Pixar Animator Reveals The Magic Ingredient That Adds Soul To Stories

This is movie magic in all its splendor.

How do animators convey personality, atmosphere and even soulfulness in their stories?

Danielle Feinberg, director of photography at Pixar, delivered a TED talk explaining the magic behind some of the film company's most beloved movies, including "Finding Nemo," "WALL-E" and "Toy Story." In the talk, delivered in November and published on YouTube on April 28, Feinberg discussed one of the essential ingredients for creating stories and characters with "soul." 

Lighting, she said, is one of animators' key tools to tell stories, set the time of day, create the mood and guide the audience's eye. It's also the part of the animation process where animators can bend the rules of science to give scenes a sense of wonder.

"We use science to create something wonderful," Feinberg said. "We use story and artistic touch to get us to a place of wonder."

As an example, Feinberg discussed the difficulty her team had bringing the character of WALL-E to life. Because the robot's binoculars were the primary way he could communicate and convey personality, she said, the animators had to find the perfect lighting that would make him "that sweet, soulful robot we've come to love."

When they reach that perfect blend of science and artistic expression, as they did with WALL-E's binoculars, Feinberg said, animators are able to "elevate the world" of their stories "to a place of wonder, a place with soul, a place we can believe in, [and] a place where the things you imagine can become real."

Check out Danielle Feinberg's full TED talk above.



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