Movies & TV

Pixar's Science of Storytelling: The Formula to a Masterpiece

It's broken down into a 22-step structure.

Although Pixar is not one of the most prolific studios in Hollywood (it only produces one movie per year), when it does make a movie, it's almost always a masterpiece. For one thing, Pixar has mastered the eternally complex and tedious art of computer graphics imaging (CGI). In fact, the Pixar team has gotten so good at CGI that they are able to animate super fine hair and program it to move (bounce, get blown by the wind, etc) in the same way as real hair does. (Rumor has it that they only created the film Brave just to show off how good they are at animating hair!) Another thing is Pixar's superb storytelling, which is the backbone of all great movies, and Pixar has a lot of talent in that department. 

Pixar masterpieces such as Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, Up, and Coco are testaments to Pixar's unparalleled storytelling. In fact, it has gotten so good at storytelling that it even managed to create a blockbuster film that had no dialogue: Wall-E. Then, in 2017, Pixar released a clip explaining how all their films' stories are linked

Absolutely mindblowing. So, how does Pixar do it? 

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Think outside the cube.

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Apparently, Pixar's writers follow a 22-step structure in storytelling, which generally follow five rules.

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Rule 1: Introduce a character's daily routine, until it's shattered by an unexpected change that they then have to struggle through.

Rule 2: Give the characters strong opinions regardless of whether they are agreeable, intolerant, or unpopular. Such opinions elicit universal emotions that the audience can relate to.


Rule 3: Use coincidences to get characters into trouble, instead of out of one.

Rule 4: Create characters who are polar opposites, then throw them against each other, only to watch them grow and learn from the other in the end.

Rule 5: Only reveal the real lesson of the story in the end. This keeps writers from feeding the audience didactic, on-the-nose themes throughout the film. In other words, the "Pixar Moment" is the scene that takes you by surprise. 


Watch Pixar's secret formula for their superb storytelling

This story originally appeared on Preview.phMinor edits have been made by the editors.

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