Monsters Inc Technology Struggles

When Tom Porter joined the Monsters, Inc. team he began by making a list of the technology they had to develop to get the film completed. One of the big problems was making hair move realistically. Sulley, a star of the film, is an 8 foot tall horned monster with a 700 pound body covered in blue-green hair. Having animators animate his hair by hand would have been an impossible task. Developing hair simulation software that can control hair movement was the answer.

They also developed simulation technology to move clothing independently of body motion. The big problem for Porter’s staff the first year of pre-production was to develop these programs. “We spent a lot of time up front making sure we could get the simulation working. In the end it worked fine.”

Another problem was creating the visual feel of atmosphere in large spaces. Monsters, Inc. was going to take place in an enormous factory and in vast outdoor spaces. They knew they had to suggest wind blowing, smoke, snow and other atmospheric effects. Porter said that historically computer graphics has presented a rather clean or crystal clear view of the world.

If you have seen the ads for the film on TV you may have noticed a line of monsters marching toward the camera. In that factory sequence they become easier to see and their colors become richer and brighter as they move toward the camera. This naturalistic effect suggests some of the subtle attention to detail Pixar’s team has achieved.

Lighting on this film was also a lot more sophisticated then it was in Toy Story. Lighting a hard plastic surface is a lot simpler than lighting fur and clothing. Therefore, they got involved with the principles of back lighting, rim lighting and other problems that they hadn’t experienced in their previous films.

Lighting and atmosphere in animated films were elevated to new levels by the creators of Monsters, Inc.Lighting and atmosphere in animated films were elevated to new levels by the creators of Monsters, Inc.

A typical day for Porter found him going over shader reviews, lighting reviews, keeping track of the big issues and running render checks to examine individual frames for problems that can develop. He oversaw approximately 100 people in the departments of lighting, shading, modeling and shots. The shots department was established for this project to implement the hair and clothing simulation.

Pixar also has a new laser recording system that was used to transfer digital images to 35mm film. It offers a wider range of colors. Despite the use of this state of the art system to create the finest 35mm prints possible, Porter prefers seeing the film digitally. It will be shown this way in some larger markets. He says, “Digital projection looks terrific! It’s rock solid. It’s so much better than watching film going through a projector. Film has a slight jumpiness to it and grain; it looks a little different. Digital looks exactly as it does on the monitors here when we are doing the lighting reviews, the effects reviews and everything else. That is what the director wants to see.”



Pixars computer programming is in the top 25 super computers in the world.

(With the help of Disneys finance)

The 2,000 computers have more than 24,000 cores. The data center is like the beating heart behind the movie’s technology.

Even with all of that computing might, it still takes 29 hours to render a single frame of Monsters University, according to supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi (two times more powerful than the last)

Pixar introducing RenderMan, the animation industry was revolutionalized. In fact, the last 44 of the 47 movies which had won the Oscars for visual effects had used the RenderMan software.

toy story

Since Toy Story was completed there has been a trend toward greater visual complexity in each of their films. Tom Porter, supervising technical director onMonsters, Inc. — and winner of two Oscars — says Toy Story was made with 1/50th the computing power available today.


Point Example (with link) Explanation and analysis Argument (find examples for and against the point)
Monopoly Global reach: Disney was listed as the strongest, most powerful brand in the world in 2016. They can reach all audiences as they have a wide range of products.

Disney is one of the 6 major conglomerates in the world which means they are able to dominate media.

For – Disney was considered one of the most valuable brands in the world, (valued more than $31 billion).


Against- Disney was ranked as the second most reputable company in the world closely behind Swiss company Rolex.

Monopoly Robert W. McChesney – The New Global Media (slide 17)

Gerald Caplan (slide 27)

Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly (slide 11)

Monopoly Horizontal integration –



Marvel – Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion.

This means they can gain more money through a new target audience as they are now one and become more mainstream.


Pixar – Disney bought Pixar for $ 7.4 billion. This allows Disney to use better animation technology and new ideas as Pixar has that and therefore a stronger business.


Lucas Film Ltd. – Disney bought Lucas Film Ltd. for $4 billion. This has led to the production of new Star Wars films, gained more mainstream audiences.

For – Buying Marvel, Pixar and Lucas Film Ltd. has earned them lots of money, new ideas, bigger audience reach and new merchandise.


Against- Disney only wants to earn more money. They can do this a lot better now as they own more and more institutes. Michael Eisner said that “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. We have no obligation to make art. To make money is our only objective.”

Monopoly Vertical integration –



ABC- Disney bought ABC for $19 billion. This allows them to advertise their products on TV and create new shows.


ESPN- Disney invested in ESPN for $1 billion. This has allowed them to earn money from this network.

For – Using these TV networks has allowed them to earn more money. They can advertise all of their new products and merchandise on the networks for free.


Against- Disney has so much freedom they can’t be stopped by other companies.



Negative female stereotypes:



Cinderella is an example of Disney representing females stereotypically. This is because she is incapable of independency and rely on men. She is also the ‘housewife’ which cooks and cleans, this is another stereotype. Cinderella also has to date and do what her father says, which stereotypes women from century’s back. For – Women watching saw that they were being represented in a horrific way. This put a bad image on women and young girls watching these films grew up believing this. It also makes it acceptable for women to be treated badly.


Against- When Disney reinvented their films, they created new characters such as Ariel (the little mermaid). This made women look more independent and rebellious.

Disneyfication Racist stereotypes:



Aladdin – Aladdin is fair skinned and speaks with an American accent. Jafar is darker-skinned and has stereotypical facial hair and ethnic features. There’s also the idea that Aladdin’s skin becomes whiter after he defeats Jafar, this is to show that all protagonists are white, not black. For – Disney is an American company owned by white people. This means they want to make them look superior to other ethnic groups and nationalities. This can be seen in some of their films.

Against- Some audience will say that they are just trying to fit the characters with their respected backgrounds.

Disneyfication Check out the critically acclaimed films, Waltz with Bashir, The Illusionist, Persepolis and Spirited Away – how many have you heard of? How successful were these films in comparison to Disney’s? Why is it so hard for these films to compete?


These animated films aren’t able to compete with Disney’s films as they don’t have as big of a following or budget for advertisement and marketing. Disney films are a lot more recognised and are more famous, because is it 6 major and because of all the parks and merchandise and their promotion around the world. Most people haven’t seen or heard of famous independent animated films because they only look to Disney for animated films as audiences find them more entertaining, people may only watch Disney films because it is created by Disney. It is a trusted brand. For – Spirited Away (2001) got a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and gained $289.1 million at the box office. This is from a budget of $19 million. This show that the film was a massive success.


Against- Beauty and the Beast (1991) got a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. It had a budget of £25 million and gained $425 million at the box office. Even though this film is older it still gained more money than Spirited Away. This is because Disney is a lot more powerful and can easily get their films advertised. Even though people didn’t like it as much, they still watched it because it was a Disney film.

Profit motive Michael Eisner (CEO)



Michael Eisner was the CEO of Disney and he believed that Disney’s products were only there to make money and are not for the enjoyment of audiences. For – “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. We have no obligation to make art. To make money is our only objective.” This quote from Eisner proves that he only wanted to make more money.
Profit motive


Film 1 – Finding Dory Finding Dory is the sequel of Finding Nemo. Disney were able to get fans of Finding Nemo to come and watch this film because it was a sequel. Dory was a fan favourite from the first film. Disney knew that many people would come and watch this film as they would want to know what happened after the previous film. For – Finding Dory made $1.024 billion at the box office. Star Ellen DeGeneres is loved by lots of people and Disney knew she would be able to get people to watch the film.


Against- Disney only made this film to gain more money. They ran out of ideas and decided to make a sequel to a film that didn’t really need one.

Profit motive


Film 2 – Monsters university is the sequel of Monsters Inc. Disney were able to get fans to come and watch this film because it was a sequel. Sully and Mike were a fan favourite from the first film and therefore used them two again, just with new characters and a new location and story. The characters were also older so audiences would like to see what they look like now and what happened and therefore watch it. Disney knew that many people would come and watch this film as they would want to know what happened after the previous film. For – Monsters University made $744.2 million at the box office. It was Disneys and Pixars first sequel film which excited people more to watch it.


Against- Disney only made this film to gain more money. They ran out of ideas and decided to make a sequel to a film that didn’t really need one.

Difficulties for indie films Spike Lee (slide 33)



Dreamworks and Aardman animation are both independent animation companies. They are famous for Wallace and Gromit.

Passion of Christ and Slumdog Millionaire were both made by independent companies and were on a low budget. However, they were able to gain lots of money at the box office. Slumdog Millionaire made $ 377.9 million at the box office but had a budget of $15 million. Passion of Christ had a budget of $ 30 million and made $ 612 million at the box office.

For – Wallace and Gromit had a budget of $40 million and gained $192.6 million at the box office. This shows that these independent films are still getting praise and recognition for their work. The success of the independent films (Slumdog Millionaire) have gained the filmmakers success. It was very well known.


Against- These independent companies are now being bought by conglomerates. This means they can now make more money out of these films. For example, Dreamworks is now owned by Comcast.

Difficulties for indie films British indie films (slide 46)


Four Lions (slide 45)


Indie film success Dreamworkz and Aardman Animation, Passion of Christ, Slumdog Millionaire,



Positive aspects of new digital technology

New technology has allowed films to look more professional and smooth. This means filmmakers can use more innovative ways of filming. For –   Red One Digital cameras are transforming the filming process by replacing the standard 35 mm camera with a smaller, lighter and more portable camera.

Against- Independent filmmakers and filmmakers on tight budgets aren’t able to make use of the new technology as they aren’t able to afford it.



Disney’s billion-dollar blockbusters in 2016
1. Captain America: Civil War: $1.15bn
2. Zootopia: $1.023bn
3. Finding Dory: $1.022bn
4. The Jungle Book: $966m
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $2.07bn ($736m in 2016)

  • Walt Disney Studios is tipped to amass a record $7bn (£5.6bn) in cinemas around the world this year.
  • In 2006, Disney spent $7.4bn on Pixar, the hit factory behind Finding Nemo, its new sequel Finding DoryToy Story and The Incredibles.
  • Disney bought more than 5,000 characters including the X-Men, Iron Man and Captain America from Marvel.
  • Disney bought Lucasfilm (maker of Star Wars) for $4bn
  • Disney is currently constructing a “Star Wars land” in Orlando and Anaheim. It is following the premiere of 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, merchandise sales are predicted to hit $5bn, with Disney reportedly taking about 10%. Another Disney blockbuster, Frozen, is reportedly the biggest merchandise moneyspinner of all time, with sales of more than $107bn.
  • In 2015, 61% of Disney’s total $5.88bn global box office take came from outside the US.
  • Disney is also aware that the Marvel and Lucasfilm acquisitions have helped it pull in large numbers of millennials
  • The only barrier to Disney hitting the magic $7bn box office total is whether Rogue One proves to be a winner with diehard Star Wars fans this Christmas.
  • Last year’s marketing campaign for The Force Awakens clocked up more than $2bn from cinemagoers, with $1.33bn of that banked as box office takings in the 2015 calendar year.
  • Disney will be hoping that its force will be strong enough to net the $1bn-plus it needs to make history this year.

Media Language


  • Examines how symbolic, written and technical signs construct meaning
  • Looks at how meanings is made and understand



denotative level = what we see

connotative level = what you associate it with