Science Museum - Pixar Exhibition

Yesterday I went to the Science Museum to see the Pixar exhibition. Pixar are the company responsible for the animated films, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and (my favourite) The Incredibles, amongst others. The exhibition includes materials used in the production of Pixar films, including story boards, pastel colour scheme tests, resin character models and lots of drawings and sketches.


In keeping with the animation theme, the picture above is a self-assembly animated toy that I bought from the inevitable post-exhibition gift shop. I came across these on the internet a while ago and didn’t buy one at the time as it didn’t seem worth the hassle of postage and all that for such a silly toy. This, of course, didn’t apply when the product was in my hand and available to me, so finally I bought one. There’s a whole range of them here, along with an interesting set of pages illustrating mechnical devices here.

There were plenty of other fascinating things to see at the Science Museum …

Also on display in the Pixar Exhibition is a very impressive modern day version of the Zoetrope. This particular Zoetrope is a large vignette of Toy Story characters built on a revolving turntable. The characters are repeated around the turntable at regular intervals with slight differences in their pose between each character. The turntable revolves at high speed and is illuminated by a strobe light which causes the action to freeze at split second intervals. The end result is that the characters appear to be animated, like watching a real-life 3-dimensional Toy Story cartoon. Aliens do somersaults off seesaws propelled by penguins; An endless stream of paratroopers leaps out of a bucket and Buzz Lightyear bounces along on a rubber ball.

After the Pixar exhibition I found some time to wander around my favourite part of the Science Museum - the floor with the old computers and mathematical gadgets. This item caught my eye. I’d heard of this kind of analogue computer before but had no idea that they had ever been constructed and used as serious pieces of equipment. The only ones I had seen are the simple ones in The Armchair Universe.
There’s more on the Phillips Economic Computer here.

The Science Museum also has a Curta mechanical pocket calculator on display that has been cut away to reveal the inner workings. The Curta is featured in William Gibson’s fictional work, All Tomorrow’s Parties. As a result, there now seems to be a thriving market for these calculators on ebay. I’m tempted to buy one just so I can own a piece of museum-worthy history.

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