To honour the saturated look of Monsters, Inc, yet give lighting artists new, faster physically-based lights for Monsters University, Pixar goes back to school to create new lights, shaders and tools
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They may be masters of the late-night fright, but even the most naturally scary monsters have to go to school to perfect their art, as we learn in Pixar's latest animated feature Monsters University. The movie takes up the story before one-eyed Mike Wazowski came to work at Monsters, Inc as assistant to his best friend James P Sullivan. In turning back the clock to our favourite monsters' student days, we not only get to watch them grow up but also see how the ability to make animated features has grown.
The 2001 film Monsters, Inc was Pixar's fourth feature film. It featured 50 characters - an extraordinary number at the time, made more remarkable by the fact that the lead character, Sulley, was furry. The film required more computing power to render than Pixar's previous three films combined, even though the studio had populated its render farm with 3,500 processors.
Times have changed. 12 years later, Pixar's 14th feature Monsters University takes place on a college campus populated with 400 monstrous students. Many of them are furry, and the majority have an odd number of legs, arms and eyes. They hang out on the campus lawn, attend classes and sporting events, and inhabit 'monsterised' buildings. It's a world the artists working on the 2001 film might have imagined, but would not have been able to create.