Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography & Lighting, Pixar Animation Studios
Wednesday, 7:00 P.M. in the Eagle Theatre
Danielle Feinberg created many of our childhoods. The Director of Photography for Lighting at Pixar Animation Studios, she’s worked on movies from A Bug’s Life; Toy Story 2; Monsters, Inc.; The Incredibles, Finding Nemo; Wall-E; and most recently Toy Story 3. Tomorrow, she shares that exeperience with the school.
Feinberg says that her presentation will show how Pixar makes a movie from beginning to end but more so show what she loves most about computer graphics and computer animation.
“ I will go through each step in the pipeline,” Feinberg said. “There will be a lot of physics, some basic math principles like the XYZ axes, some trigonometry and a few other tidbits sprinkled in there.”
Feinberg was first exposed to computer graphics when she was eight, when she designed spirographs in LOGO. During her junior year at Harvard, Feinberg “fell in love with computer animation” when her professor showned her computer graphics class a few of Pixar’s first animated short films.
Jobs were popping up everywhere following the release of Toy Story, and as a female in the male-dominated field of computer science, Feinberg remembers that “it was much easier to stand out.”
With the industry suddenly booming and her aspiration to combine both her mathematical skill and artistic mind, Feinberg knew what she wanted to do with her life.
Computer animation was “everything she had ever tried to do,” but it’s no walk in the park. According to Feinberg, people are most surprised with how much work goes into an animated film after hearing her presentation.
“About 1,600 to 2,000 shots are in each movie,” Feinberg said. “My team and I begin working on a film three years before it even comes out.”
From every detail of plant life to the inferno erupting from an explosion, Feinberg is required to use up to 40 controls over each light to produce a realistic image that the director wants to see.
During “Finding Nemo,” for example, creating the jellyfish scene was no easy task; each of their amorphous shapes all had to be created from scratch.
“It was a really hard sequence and the hundreds of jellyfish images were bogging the computers down,” Feinberg said. “I spent hours slaving over making a realistic image of jellyfish that would actually be in the Southern Pacific.”
But it wasn’t for nothing. At the director’s review meeting that afternoon, Feinberg presented the sequence, and she remembers “the director starting to clap, and then the entire room following along.”
“Finding Nemo” then went on to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
In the future, Feinberg is excited to continue working on more fun and artistically interesting projects. She is working on the movie “Brave” (set to release in 2012) with the first female director at Pixar and is ecstatic to go back to realism. Her last project, “Wall-E,” was more sci-fi. “Brave,” however, is set in Scotland, and Feinberg is looking forward to designing “more realistic images of nature.”
“I get to create new worlds,” Feinberg said. “It’s like nirvana.” -MS