With every Pixar movie, the anticipation is high.

The standards that the Disney-owned animated company has set for both animation and storytelling-are on the upper stratosphere. Whether it be "Toy Story" or "Cars" or "Finding Nemo" everyone has a Pixar film that they hold dear.

 Part of what makes their movies so good is the gorgeous visuals.

Pixar’s latest, "Coco" which opens in the U.S. on Wednesday looks to be visually stunning, going by the promos. The company actually had to create new programs to tackle the unprecedented technical challenges they encountered with "Coco".

 And the story of tackling these challenges is as incredible as anything that the company has committed to screen.

Bravely, to the Land of the Dead

The movie is about a young Mexican boy named Miguel. His secret wish is to become a famous musician. The problem is that after his great-great-grandfather left the family, looking for fame and fortune as a musician, Miguel’s family has forbidden music. But while he was celebrating the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, Miguel somehow reached the land of the dead. After that, he sets on a journey not just to make it back to the land of the living but also to find his great-great-grandfather in the process.

The film posed a number of challenges to the animators.

For one thing, they have never had to incorporate skeletons in any of their films before- and there are quite a few skeletons in this movie. Also, Pixar has never orchestrated the lighting of a world on this huge a scale- the bulk of the film takes place in the land of the dead where it’s night.

Pixar has used the software called Presto ever since the film "Brave"(2012) to tackle technical challenges. However, with ‘"Coco" they found that Presto wasn’t all that effective.

 For instance, the clothes on the skeletons just didn’t hit the bones right using Presto. They kept getting tangled and sometimes snagged in between bones. The resulting effects were somewhat comedic- which was not what the animators were looking for.

To avoid such glitches, Pixar built an all-new program.

 Using this program, they were able to fill up the negative spaces, fuse the bones on arms and legs better and in some cases, even insert wind spheres and pillows to prevent the clothes from sticking to the skeletons the wrong way.

Of bones and lights

Also challenging was the sheer number of bones involved.

Each skeleton in the movie has 127 bones out of which about 80 are visible (not concealed behind clothes). This large number made manually painting all the skeletons impractical. However, the new program allowed them to add shade to the bones, especially in the crowd scenes.

However, if the number of skeletons was big, then the number of individual lights required to create the land of the dead was even bigger- seven million to be precise. These lights include pin lights, lights from plazas, street lights and more. To have the computer process all these lights would have been near impossible.

Also, the land of the dead is insanely intricate, incorporating structures that evoke Mexican history down thousands of years. The labyrinthine lanes and crevices and nooks and crannies that the presence of such structures result in needed to be filled with shadows or lights of different gradients.

To put it simply, things weren’t easy.

To tackle the issue, the programmers used code that they created for a scene in "The Good Dinosaur" (2015) and added to it to suit the purposes of "Coco."

With the enhanced code, the computer was able to bundle the various kinds of lights together into fifteen types- a world better than having to process seven million individual lights.