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Look at that Hair!

Hair is difficult. Whether you have straight hair, curly or hair in between, it is not easy to work with. Long, medium, short, they all have their own difficulties. The same can be said, probably even more so, for animated hair. Pixar had this very problem when tyring to animate Merida’s hair, the main character for their Movie Brave.


Pre-CGI hair


Pre-Pixar and the modern CGI era animation was nowhere near close to getting the hair right for the movies because the technology just was not there. Ariel from the Little Mermaid for example was supposed to have curly hair however, the technology back then wouldn’t allow it so instead they got her a flowy red blob that was more of a singular mass than individual strands of hair. Overall the ‘90s Disney animation hair was just the smooth, big, flouncy weird hair we all remember and love.


Early CGI


Then CGI came! It looks so much more realistic. Looking at the characters in Final Fantasy’s animation then took my breath away. They now had the ability to animate each and every strand and that made the characters look so much realer. With power however comes great responsibility. Things can get too real. The brain is weird and when you make a character too lifelike the brain no longer reads it as good animation but as reality with something wrong about it. It’s the uncanny valley.


In general though, CGI has helped animators give their characters more character. Take Tangled (my favorite Disney movie of all time) for example. The heroine is literally half hair. With CGO they were able to render 100,000 strands of hair to make it as realistic as possible.


CGI and Curl Perfection


Curls are naturally harder to draw than straight locks. Pixar had to invent a whole different type of animation to get the texture and bounce of the hair right. To get the right look, they had to use more than 1,500 hand-made strands, some more twisted than the other.

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