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How Pixar Makes The Costumes For Animated Films

In one of the four buildings that make up the huge Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, California, there are several rooms dedicated to patterning and sewing garments. There are also several offices – mostly arranged for two people each – in which said garments are brought to life on a screen. In a matter of seconds, as if by magic, the clothes wrinkle, move, become transparent, resize and twist endless times, while being worn by a computer-animated character.

“It’s the best kept secret in this industry,” explains Trevor Barrus, the head tailor for Elemental – the new Pixar film that deals with the balance of the four elements through the unlikely friendship between Ember (fire) and Wade (water).

The most important animation studio in the world has a tailoring team made up of approximately 20 people. They aren’t costume designers per se, but they’re not computer simulators, either. “We’re somewhere between technique and creativity,” explains Barrus.

They’re essentially virtual tailors, who work with the sketches drawn up by the character designers – who initially imagine the clothes – and the animators who simulate movement. They turn the ideas into real-life prototypes, before translating them to the screen.

The Steve Jobs Atrium at Pixar’s headquarters in California, in 2023.

The Steve Jobs Atrium at Pixar’s headquarters in California, in 2023.

“In this case, [the characters of Elemental still have] human forms or proportions, but in addition to that, they have their own materiality. Fire, wind, water and earth move differently… hence, the materials they wear are different, which is why Ember wears metallic mesh clothing and Wade wears waterproof clothing, for example.”

For eight months, Barrus – who previously worked on films such as Lightyear, Luca and Inside Out 2 – and his team of 20 people have been in charge of giving movement to metal, nylon and cotton, while deciding on lengths, colors and patterns and experimenting with lights and shadows. Compared to other projects, he explains, “there isn’t much equipment. In fact, all the characteristics of [Elemental] are different”.

The film’s characters come out of pure fantasy. Hence, more imagination than realism was required. “Oftentimes, it’s about removing elements instead of adding details – a process that is sometimes just as complex. The goal is for nobody to notice the wardrobe; it needs to seem like something natural”, he notes. But, keep in mind that, in the world of Pixar, the word “natural” has a totally different meaning.

One of the preparation and construction steps (in simulated metal) of the clothes worn by of one of the characters in the film 'Elemental.'

One of the preparation and construction steps (in simulated metal) of the clothes worn by of one of the characters in the film ‘Elemental’.

During the production of many Pixar films, garments are made by hand and tried out on mannequins or people, before moving on to digital simulation. “There’s a lot of attention spent on how we dress the characters. Here, we have a constant dialogue with all departments all the time. In a film that uses real images, for example, dressing the character based on their personality or the time period matters.

You have to take into account the setting, what the main character is wearing compared to the secondary ones, etc.”. explains Juan Carlos Olmos, who spent more than 16 months designing the clothing for the main character in Elio (set to be released in 2024). “Even if the story is more realistic, the clothing has to be stylized: buttons must be larger than usual, materials require a different thickness, small details are very important here.”

Between the mannequin and the screens, Juan Carlos Olmos – a digital tailor at Pixar – works on the wardrobe of the protagonist of Elio, which will be released in the spring.

Between the mannequin and the screens, Juan Carlos Olmos – a digital tailor at Pixar – works on the wardrobe of the protagonist of Elio, which will be released in the spring.

Set in an indeterminate future, the 11-year-old protagonist’s garments are made from upcycling – that is, from the remains of other materials. The team had to try making clothes from – among other things – old fabrics or plastic bags, before transferring these elements to the screen. “It’s something like building and then rebuilding on top of what has been built.

First, because the proportions are different: these aren’t human bodies. For this reason – although it may seem paradoxical – we have to break the traditional rules [such as putting in a wrinkle or a fold where there isn’t one].

And second, because the idea is that this simulated and stylized wardrobe will influence people. They’ll remember it – it may even become a costume. This is only achievable by enhancing certain details.”

An image from 'Up' – the first film in which Pixar used its own costume-making program.

An image from ‘Up’ – the first film in which Pixar used its own costume-making program.

The first time Pixar created a digital tailoring department (beyond the costumes that were drawn alongside the character) was with Monsters Inc. (2001). “It was a kind of reverse engineering.

The real clothes were made and then a program would translate them into patterns in two dimensions, because nobody had any knowledge of pattern making,” Olmos explains. Little by little, they were creating their own internal programs to clothe the characters in 3D designs. One of the first programs, in fact, was known internally as Edna Design, alluding to the designer character in The Incredibles. With Edna, they created the clothes for Up (2009).

The digital tailors currently work with programs such as C3d and Fizt2 – the latter having won a technical Oscar. “Today, we’re able to orient the patterns according to the simulated fabric we choose; we can drape and simulate the elasticity and movement of a specific fabric, or play with the weight of different layers,” Olmos says. However, for him, Pixar’s great contribution to the main wardrobe isn’t on a screen. “The most important thing is to have people with knowledge of traditional tailoring in the digital tailoring teams, because in order to be able to represent a shirt well on the computer, you have to first know how to make a shirt, even if you have to transform it later.”

“Having knowledge of fashion is also critical. A character in a woolen suit doesn’t communicate the same thing as with a polyester one. We also have to know how and why they dressed as they did in specific times.”

A still from 'Elemental.' For the film, Trevor Barrus has created a specific wardrobe that can move in contact with water, fire and air.

A still from ‘Elemental’.

For the film, Trevor Barrus has created a specific wardrobe that can move in contact with water, fire and air.

Both Barrus and Olmos specialized in animation. In their previous work, they came across garment simulation programs that are often used by fashion designers as well. They ended up learning how to pattern and design clothes. “I never had anything to do with art until I needed it professionally. But it’s true that, within digital tailoring, there’s also a field of opportunities for designers,” Barrus emphasizes.

Pete Docter, creative director of Pixar, during a team meeting in 2023.

Pete Docter, creative director of Pixar, during a team meeting in 2023.

Olmos – who trained at New York’s Parsons and FIT fashion schools – stresses how the right software and knowledge can also change the apparel industry with issues that go far beyond the hackneyed metaverse: “While many computer tools have been developed to make clothes, studying [fashion and tailoring] and knowing how to use the right tools saves material, resources and energy.”


Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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