The Reel of Math – EdTechReview

Ever wondered what goes behind the making of your favorite animated movie?


From Shinchan to Finding Nemo, these movies have a mathematical equation associated with them. All the characters, their movements, the way they speak, and all the dreamy backgrounds are nothing but a combination of polygons and formulas. The images and designs are largely computer graphics but have simplified math solutions hidden beneath them.

Let us see how 3 major math concepts create the base for most cartoons and animated movies:

  • Co-ordinate Geometry: We all love the chase in Tom and Jerry, but how do we add life to these characters? They are just images placed at different positions with varied expressions. The positions of these images are decided by using coordinate geometry. All you must do is define the x and y coordinate for positioning the image. For e.g., you want a character to run straight, so you start at X = 1 and set a formula for further positions as X = X+2 while keeping Y co-ordinate constant. So, it is not the character moving but these images shifting from one position to another that create this effect.
  • Trigonometry: A high ninja jump followed by a roll in the air, the move we all drool over has a simple trigonometric solution. First, we need to set a central point and then change the angles associated with it using trigonometric functions. Rotation of any object whether 2D or 3D can be done through this.
  • Mid-Point: Remember Dory from Finding Nemo or Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc? How do you think these complex graphics are made? We cannot draw and sketch different expressions of these complex shapes again and again. That will require an eternity to complete. However, that is not how it is done but by using a very simple technique of mid-points. We create one image and define its mid-points and join them and further do the same till we get the desired look. Who would have ever thought, forming a 3D shape is just about a mid-point formula!

So, next time you watch an animated movie, you know that math is making your super-hero characters walk, talk, jump, dance, fly, and what not!

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About the Author

Author: Sana Khan

Sana Khan, Master Teacher, Vedantu

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