Brave is an animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios mid this year. It is set in the Highlands of medieval Scotland and tells the story of a young princess, Merida, who defies an age-old custom , causing chaos to both her family and the kingdom. Honestly, the plot isn’t that well done. There were a couple of loose ends yet to be tied up. But it’s okay, the plot is not the point; the animation is.
For Brave, Pixar created a new animation system that allowed more flexibility animated fur, clothing, water and most importantly in the film – Merida’s hair. The picture above is how the female lead Merida looks like. As you can see, she has loads of those red curls. With the help of Presto, an animation system totally different from what Pixar usually uses, it gave the animators more flexibility for previewing during animation and they could also do advance simulation for Merida’s hair. Pixar developed a new hair simulation software known as Taz for Brave, surpassing the tools it used on their past feature films such as Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2. It took around three years, six animators and tons of hard work to do up Merida’s hair.
With Taz, the aim was to enable Merida’s soft curls to bounce properly or rub against things the right way when she interacts and expresses herself. The problem with previous software was that it didn’t make the hair react to the surroundings and actions right therefore there was a need to create a new software. It took a significant amount of time to make Taz. Besides hair, fur was also another challenge for the animators. Merida’s father, Fergus, wore attire consisting of eight layers. Those layers included several cloth, chainmail, leather, weapons, and a cloak with fur sewn on. No studio has even tried creating something so complicated, as it will face alot of problems the way the individual layers collide together.
Here is a short video of the layers of Merida’s hair.