The GPU Technology Conference isn't for everyone, but anyone can enjoy the inside look one Pixar engineer gave into the famed company's animation process. It starts with Presto, Pixar's internal animation system that allows the company to manipulate Monsters University's characters with an incredible degree of precision. The Pixar engineer illustrated how with a few clicks, an animator can move Sully's arms, legs, eyes, nose, and lips — 1500 animation controls in all — and do it in real-time without dropping a frame.
Moving an arm and a leg might not sound like much — until you consider that doing so also entails moving Sully's 900,000 hairs, each with 4 points drawn by a GPU. It's something Pixar couldn't do just a few years ago, meaning animators had to work with a naked version of Sully that was harder to manipulate effectively. "It was a breakthrough on Monsters U using the GPUs to draw each piece of fur in real-time," the engineer said. "It's really important to us to be able to create an environment that can be playful, where the animator can just reach in, grab that character, and start moving him around in real-time without having to worry about slow, bogging down speeds." Check out the full video embedded above.