New Khan Academy course will teach you how animated movies are made

By Maryam Dodhy on
September 1, 2015
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Free online course hub, Khan Academy has launched ‘Pixar in a Box‘ — a new course that will teach students the academic concepts behind Pixar Animation Studios’ creative process.

Like all their other courses, it will be taught through a series of video lessons, interactive exercises, and hands-on activities. Via the process, students will discover how the concepts they learn in school enable Pixar filmmakers to create and animate unique characters and tell stories through animation. The program is designed for middle and high school students but is available and accessible to learners of any age.

The announcement was made at a special event at Pixar’s Emeryville Campus by Pixar and Disney’s Animation President Ed Catmull and Khan Academy founder Salman Khan. Speaking at the event, Pixar senior scientist and research group lead Tony DeRose said:

“Many students start to lose interest in academics in middle and high school, partly because they don’t see how academic concepts relate to things they care about. Pixar in a Box aims to address this disconnect by showing how Pixar filmmakers use these concepts for creative benefit in their everyday work.”

The course uses terms that children have studied in their maths class and relates them to how animations are created. For example, the course will teach how cominatorics are used to create crowds like the robot swarms in WALL-E, how parabolas are used to model environments like the forest in Brave, how weighed averages are used to create characters like Buzz Lightyear and Woody, how linear and cubic interpolation are used to animate characters, how trigonometry is used to create the worlds of Pixar’s stories and how simultaneous equations are used to ‘paint’ all of Pixar’s images.

These lessons are the first phase of the project. The first year focuses on math. Future Pixar in a Box lessons will explore science, computer science, arts, and humanities. You can use the course’s resources available here on Khan Academy.

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