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In this stage of the process, the camera angles and the basic motions of the characters are finalized.

Virtual cameras view virtual 3D worlds

What are sets?

Sets are the virtual environments in which stories take place. The setting of each scene conveys the context, story, and emotion.

What does a set designer do?

Set designers are architects. They build virtual environments from the ground up. Every pebble, tree, and building helps turn the storyboards into a believable world. Some set pieces are modeled individually the same way characters are. Other sets are created procedurally with computer programs.

What are cameras?

Cameras provide our view into the virtual 3D world. They frame each image to convey both where to look and how to feel about a scene.

What does a camera artist do?

Camera artists are cinematographers of the virtual world. They use virtual cameras to shape what is shown in each frame. Camera artists choose the composition, camera movement, and lens type to support the story.

Top: The camera placement (the blue circle) determines what the audience sees in this scene from A Bug’s Life.

Bottom: View from the virtual camera.

Videos and Activities

Pixar’s Sets Challenge

Programming natural sets

Pixar’s Sets Challenge

Sylvia Wong

Layout Technical Director

Sylvia Wong

Programming Natural Variety

Adjust the rules to create a field of grass

Generate a field of grass by adjusting the color, clumpiness, height, and bend direction of each blade. A randomness selector determines whether the objects are mostly alike or mostly different.

Pixar in a Box

Continue to explore using Pixar in a Box, a set of lessons developed by Pixar and Khan Academy. Follow the links for lessons on Environmental Modeling, Sets and Staging, and Virtual Cameras.

Ask a Pixar Scientist

  • Wow! You think its all just you draw it even painting has math. Why do they use math and not just draw it?
    — Daisy
    If they want to show millions of blades of grass, and want to make them to move realistically in response to wind or horses running past, then it's less work to do it this way.
    — Peter Collingridge