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How Pixar's 'Toy Story 4' was animated

The fourth installment in the beloved “Toy Story” franchise achieves a level of detail and realism unseen in any Disney·Pixar project yet. See how it all came to life at the legendary Pixar studios, step by step: beginning with the story and artwork stage, onto 3D computer modeling, shading and surfacing, layout, voice acting, character animation, simulation, lighting, effects, scoring, sound mixing, and the final render. The first “Toy Story” film was a pioneer in computer-generated animation back in 1995, as the first full-length feature to be completely CG-animated. In the last 25 years, the evolution of Pixar technology has allowed for an unprecedented standard of natural-world CGI in “Toy Story 4,” topping the already impressive undertakings in “Toy Story 2” (1999) and “Toy Story 3” (2010). So how exactly did Pixar raise the bar for animation once more for this year’s sequel? INSIDER takes you behind the filmmaking process for “Toy Story 4,” illustrating each stage in the production pipeline. We show how the characters and their environments were designed, modeled and built, and how Pixar’s technical artists created visual textures that appear so vivid and lifelike on the big screen. Plus, we explain which parts of the movie were animated by hand — and which parts were simulated using advanced computer software that models the appearance of clothing, weather, hair, and fur. The Josh Cooley-directed film features recurring stars Tom Hanks (as Sheriff Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), and Joan Cusack (Jessie). Also returning are John Ratzenberge as the piggy bank Hamm and Wallace Shawn as the tyrannosaurus Rex; Pixar even pieced together existing audio from the late Don Rickles for the voice of Mr. Potato Head. Joining the performers to voice the new characters of “Toy Story 4” are a number of big-name cast additions, including Keanu Reeves (as Duke Caboom), Elizabeth Hendricks (Gabby Gabby), Keegan-Michael Key (Ducky), Jordan Peele (Bunny), Tony Hale (Forky), and Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki). Other notable cast members and celebrity cameos include the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea (as Duke Caboom’s announcer), comedian and “Barry” star Bill Hader (Axel the Carnie), Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette (as Harmony’s mother), Jay Hernandez (Bonnie’s dad), Laurie Metcalf (Andy’s mom), Emily Davis (Billy, Goat, and Gruff); Bonnie Hunt (Dolly), Carl Weathers (the Combat Carls), Carol Burnett (Chairol Burnett), Betty White (Bitey White), Mel Brooks (Melephant Brooks), Timothy Dalton (Mr. Pricklepants), Kristen Schaal (Trixie the Triceratops), Steve Purcell (the Bensons), June Squibb (Margaret), and Carl Reiner (Carl Reineroceros). This star-studded lineup of skilled voice actors help to bring the sweet plot and grown-up themes of “Toy Story 4” to life. Their performances, combined with the strikingly naturalistic quality of the animation, has earned the film a strong box-office debut — along with rave reviews from critics (with a “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and even early Oscar buzz for the Best Animated Film category.

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