In the movies Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, we watch lots of funny fish search the big ocean for family. These movies don’t show real fish, though. They’re “animated,” meaning the movie is made of lots and lots of drawings called frames. Each frame is just a little different from the one before: maybe the fish moves over a tiny bit, or a turtle lifts his head. When you flick through 24 or 30 drawings every second, the characters look like they’re moving! So our friend Callie S. asked, how many people does it take to make a movie like that? Turns out Toy Story needed 27 animators to make the 77-minute film, and 800,000 hours of computer time. Some movies used even more — after all, Sulley from Monsters, Inc. had 2,320,413 hairs. But don’t worry, animators don’t draw those hairs one by one: they use math to make them move!
Wee ones: If it takes 5 pictures to show Nemo flicking his fin, what numbers do you say to count them?
Little kids: The octopus in Monsters, Inc. has only 6 legs, as a joke. If you gave him 2 more legs, would he have a full 8? Bonus: If you got to help those 27 animators draw Toy Story, now how many animators would there be?
Big kids: If 20 animators each drew 3 minutes of film, would that be enough for 77 minutes? Bonus: If you need 30 frames (pictures) each second, how many do you make for 1 minute of movie? (Hint if needed: What would 3 frames per second for 6 seconds be? Then, 30 frames for 6 seconds…then how about 30 frames for 60 seconds?)
The sky’s the limit: If 50 computers run all week except for an 8-hour break, how many weeks would it take for them to run a whole 800,000 hours of work in total?
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Little kids: Yes! 6 + 2 is 8. Bonus: 28 animators.
Big kids: Not quite! They’d make 60 minutes. Bonus: 1,800 frames just for 1 minute.
The sky’s the limit: 100 weeks. First, a week has 24 x 7 or 168 hours. If the computers take off 8 hours, that’s 160 hours for each. So 50 computers together can do 8,000 hours of work. It would take them 100 weeks, or almost 2 years (if the article’s right that it really took 800,000 hours)!
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.