The Disney Insider Blog (UPDATED: Link removed as it is no longer active) recently posted a really interesting high-level breakdown of the animation process that Monsters University followed. The animated GIF below takes a look at a scene where Sulley holds up Mike after capturing Archie the Scare Pig and shows what each step of the process looks like.
The order of the frames goes from the Story Department, in which the story artists pre-visualize a scene before the scene moves onto the Art Department, where they formulate the style and feel of the scene.
Next, the Modeling Department will handle the scene and make a series of wire-frames, designing the world’s shapes, textures, colors, and other aspects. In the Layout Department, a virtual camera is added as well as the placement of the characters before sending the scene to the Animation and Simulation Department where they will add textures to the characters and animate their movements.
Finally, the scene moves to the Lighting Department to give the scene its overall feel and mood.
Of course, as mentioned, this is a very high-level look as there are many painstaking hours involved with each step to ensure the scene is not going to have to be reworked time and time again through each frame of the movie. Either way, it’s still really interesting to see this process take shape like this – in fact, last year’s Brave progression video was very similar.