Merida’s “Brave” New World of Hair

What an amazing mass of flowy, red, curly hair!

By now you may have realized that the star of Disney Pixar’s newest animated film “Brave” is Merida, a Scottish princess.  If you have seen her in the movie or in the trailers, you have seen her adorable and endless mass of red curls that flow in the Scottish wind.  What you may not know is that her curly hair is a precedent-setter for the world of animation.  Simply put, this is the first time curly hair has been done in a Pixar animated film…ever!

I just saw the movie with my family this afternoon, and in addition to Pixar getting it so right with an excellent storyline and plenty of great humor, Pixar nailed it with the animation of Merida’s flowing locks.  Merida is a very active, outdoorsy princess, and so her hair has to match her personality.  It moves when she moves, and even when it gets wet, it looks like real curls should. (Incidentally, Merida gets her red hue from her father, King Fergus, as do her triplet brothers…adorable!)

Why is this such a standout accomplishment?  It has been very hard – next to impossible – to get curly hair right in the world of animation.  It is difficult to reproduce an authentic-looking copy of its movement, and it’s even more challenging to get animated curly hair to look soft and flowing.  Usually, curly hair has come across as stiff and a bit unreal in animated films.

Enter Pixar, Claudia Chung, and computer software named Taz.  Ms. Chung is the Simulation Supervisor at Pixar, and Taz is the new hair simulation software created to remedy a problem such as this one. Claudia and her team fine-tuned this software for over a year just to be able to bring Merida’s curly red locks to the big screen in a believable way.  Taz (yes, named for the Tasmanian Devil) not only took care of the hair issue, but it also resolved the notoriously difficult task of animating Fergus’ clothes and animal fur as well.

Pixar’s wonderful animators, in conjunction with a great program named Taz, have done it again in pushing the envelope and bringing something truly beautiful and creative to the arena of family entertainment.  So, when you have the opportunity to see “Brave”,  enjoy the story, the music, the scenery, the animation….and enjoy the wonder of Merida’s red, CURLY hair onscreen!

(Information sources: Goldsea.com; CNet.com, article by Daniel Terdiman)

 

 

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