Danielle Feinberg, Pixar’s director of photography, creates stories with soul and wonder using math, science and code. Go behind the scenes of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Brave, WALL-E and more, and discover how Pixar interweaves art and science to create fantastic worlds where the things you imagine can become real. This talk comes from the PBS special “TED Talks: Science & Wonder.”





  • transfix – cause (someone) to become motionless with horror, wonder, or astonishment
  • execute – put (a plan, order, or course of action) into effect
  • rough – not exact or precise; approximate
  • utterly – totally
  • relate – make or show a connection between


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • When did Danielle decide that she wanted to make movies for a living? (1:15)
  • What are other uses of light, apart from making things visible? (3:07)
  • In what way is science helping movie makers at Pixar? (5:37)
  • What was one of the biggest challenges with the character of Wall-E and how was it solved? (9:05)
  • What ingredients does Pixar use to bring its stories to life?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the verbs in brackets used in appropriate tenses and forms.

I ________ (always love) math and science, later, coding. And so I ________ (decide) to study computer programming in college. In my junior year, my computer graphics professor ________ (show) us these wonderful short films. It was the first computer animation any of us ________ (ever see). I ________ (watch) these films in wonder, transfixed, fireworks going off in my head, thinking, “That ________ (be) what I want to do with my life.” The idea that all the math, science and code I ________ (learn) could come together to create these worlds and characters and stories I ________ (connect) with, was pure magic for me.

Just two years later, I ________ (start) working at the place that made those films, Pixar Animation Studios. It was here I ________ (learn) how we actually execute those films. To create our movies, we create a three-dimensional world inside the computer. We start with a point that makes a line that ________ (make) a face that ________ (create) characters, or trees and rocks that eventually become a forest. And because it’s a three-dimensional world, we can move a camera around inside that world. I ________ (fascinate) by all of it. But then I got my first taste of lighting.


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