Violet’s Hair Was the Most Difficult Thing to Animate in The Incredibles

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When it comes to technically impressive movies, they don’t come more technical or impressive than The Incredibles, we mean, come on, it’s got the word “incredible” right there in it. Few people realise though what an absolute nightmare some of the characters were to animate though, for example, for a while, they didn’t even know if it was possible to bring Violet to life on the big screen.

The main reason Violet was such a difficult character to animate was, to put it simply, that she had long hair, which is well-known as one of the single most pain-in-the-ass things to animate in the entire world. Think about it, how many animated movies or games have you ever seen in which a character has long hair that is allowed to flow naturally?

This game came out in 1997, step it up, Pixar.
This game came out in 1997, step it up, Pixar.

The answer is probably “uh, Tangled and that’s about it” and for good reason, long hair is notoriously hard to animate realistically to the point that avoiding long hair during animated cutscenes and movies has its own page on TVTropes. Though it seems perfectly natural to have long hair here in the meat world, in the world of animation that means you have to individually model 400,000 hairs on a characters head and make it so that they all act in a realistic way. Due to the sheer amount of work involved, most studios just say screw it and give their characters a ponytail or pigtails for example like they did with Boo in Monsters Inc. Not that Monsters Inc didn’t have fantastic animation, in fact it’s quite the opposite, Monsters Inc had contained ground-breaking special effects including but not limited to Sully’s fur and Boo’s t-shirt animations, all of which consumed a huge amount of resources and rendering time. However, it’s quite telling in a film where they had a character literally covered head to toe in fur, the one thing they chose to cut back on was the human character’s hairstyle.

However, when it came to animating Violet, because her hair was such an integral part of her character due to the fact that she was supposed to symbolically hide behind it throughout the film, there was no leeway granted to the animation department, they just had to make it work somehow.

Artists interpretation of the animation department's faces upon being told this news.
Artists interpretation of the animation department’s faces upon being told this news.

This led to quite an interesting situation because for the a large part of the production process, it wasn’t even clear if the technology needed to animate Violet’s hair would ever exist, nevertheless the film continued ahead as if it was. Luckily the film was being made by Pixar and they ended up figuring out a way of animating Violet’s hair involving a complicated series of steps we won’t even attempt to try and understand. To put it simply, they created 5 different hairstyles for Violet which could be animated separately and realistically depending on what environment she was in.

Which is where we feel the need to stop and mention that Violet isn’t even a main character, yes she’s important to the story and yes she’s one of the titular Incredibles, but she isn’t the character with the most screen-time. Which didn’t stop Pixar’s animation department kicking all of the ass when it came to animating her in the way they felt she needed to be animated.

It kind of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?