November 30, 2006


Had a bunch of new people show up tonight to watch Cars, Pixar's newest feature film. Dantam came after not being here in a long time, and Julie showed up again. Kristen and her fiance (or husband) showed up also. As did Wendy and Reza. Unfortunately Brian had to work late and couldn't make it. Originally even more people were coming but there were a number of last minute cancellations. We ordered Round Table pizza this time, which turns out to be much more expensive pizza, although also more food and toppings. Kristen brought salad and wine.

Kristen is supposedly allergic to cats. She showed up and had forgotten to take her allergy pill, but wasn't so bad. A few sniffles maybe. I vacuumed a lot the day before so that probably helped. I didn't open the windows though because it's too cold these days. Reza and Kristen's fiance seemed to have some interest in car subwoofers. And Reza seems to know a lot about cars. He recognized a lot of the cars in the movie right away.

Cars is one of Pixar's best films yet. There are a lot of subtle and little jokes, that show an extreme attention to detail and overall fun. The credits were filled with lots of fun stuff too. And I especially liked the John Ratzenberger sequence. The story is excellent and while not the most original, the execution was superb.

I think the new technology featured in Cars is lighting and motion blur. Anyone familiar with 3D rendering knows that one of the reasons you need high frame rates is because there isn't any natural motion blur when you render a scene. It's a static image. So if you only show 24fps of a static image, the brain won't be able to fill in the missing frames and you'll see jerky motion. But in Cars, motion looked real. Absolutely necessary for something as fast paced as car racing.

The special deal with the lighting was in the reflection, gloss, and refraction. Cars have a very reflective surface, and many things both in nature and man-made have certain lighting behavior. Dealing with things like mirrors and bending of the light to match the material requires enormous computation time because each individual light ray needs to be traced as it bounces around the scene. But Pixar got it, and it's all over the place in this film. The car reflections look right, and so does the lighting from headlamps on the pavement and the ambient look of highway signs.

Although the sport of car racing doesn't interest me, I think Cars is an amazing movie and wonderful story.

Posted by josuah at November 30, 2006 8:20 AM UTC+00:00

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