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The Science of Curly Hair

Merida from Pixar's BraveWith the release of each Pixar film, discussion always seems to swing at some point to the technical animation challenges conquered by the latest film. With Monsters, Inc. it was fur, Finding Nemo it was water, The Incredibles had humans, Cars conquered ray tracing reflections, and WALL•E successfully replicated charming film and lens imperfections. As Brenda Chapman mentioned in my interview with her, with Brave, we're going to hear a lot about Merida's curly red hair.

With just under a hundred days to go to the release of the film, the discussion has begun. Jay Miller, a graduate of MIT, was interviewed on Physics Central's podcast about the extreme science and mathematics behind the realistic rendering and animation behind the wild red Scottish locks seen throughout the film. In a summary from io9, they list several of the real-world study subjects the computer scientists of Pixar examined including the flagella of an amoeba, the spiral of a double helix and a buckling steel pipeline.

Certainly Pixar has made incredible strides with hair in the past like the fur in Monsters, Inc. as mentioned before, The Incredibles, UP and others. But this is the first of their films to incorporate full heads of moppy, curly hair not only on Merida, but those of her younger triplet brothers as well.