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Lights! Camera! Science? How STEM plays a role in your favorite animated movies

the science behind pixar exhibit
Ann Thompson
The Science Behind Pixar

Remember in high school when you asked why you had to take math and science? One good answer might be because you could be destined for Hollywood. Moviemakers who master the basic principles of physics can create believable animated performances.

In a new exhibition opening Friday at the Cincinnati Museum Center, “The Science Behind Pixar,” visitors learn firsthand how science intersects with animation.

It brings people face-to-face with Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode, WALL*E and more.

“The Science Behind Pixar is an interactive exhibition that offers people a hands-on opportunity to understand how we make our films,” says Jim Morris, president of Pixar Animation Studios. “At Pixar, we use science, technology, engineering, art and math - along with a significant dash of creativity and fun.”

Here's what you can do at the Museum Center:

  • Create a digital sculpture from an artist’s sketch
  • Build a robot inspired by those in WALL*E
  • Use lights to solve challenges like ones faced by Pixar in creating underwater scenes in Finding Nemo
  • Discover how camera placement and angles created a bug’s-eye  view in A Bug’s Life

“The Science Behind Pixar demonstrates how wonderfully the components of STEM intersect to create whimsical worlds and iconic characters who have defined a generation,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center.
This exhibition was developed by the Museum of Science in Boston in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios.

Tickets are required for this exhibit that opens Friday, Oct. 22 at Union Terminal.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology