Khan Academy recently teamed up with the team at Pixar to create a free online course for people who are interested in seeing how Pixar artists “do their jobs.” But lest you think there’s nothing there for photographers, think again. One of the classes in this course will definitely appeal to still shooters.
The class is called “Virtual Cameras,” and it covers a whole range of topics relating to cameras and optics. When Pixar is animating a movie like Inside Out, the Director of Photography treats the process as if he or she were shooting a real life scene. Focal length, camera angle, depth of field, and more are all considered, and the Pixar team explains how and why in their Virtual Cameras class.
Here’s a quick intro from the class, where they discuss basic concepts in photography and optics and show you how those same concepts apply to the virtual cameras used to ‘film’ Pixar movies:
The course begins with pinhole cameras, then moves on to cover: focal distance and its effects, camera lenses, depth of field, storytelling with a camera, and scene composition. Each of these subjects are elaborated and expanded on in turn, explaining concepts like the Simple Lens Law and Thin Lens Approximation.
The class is one of the more fun ways to learn all about cameras and optics—or maybe get your kids into it?—and it’s available 100% for free on the Khan Academy website. Check it out, and if you like this class, give the whole course a try. Not every class is as relevant to photographers, but we have a feeling classes like Color Science and The Art of Storytelling won’t be a waste of your time.