On Friday, May 29, 2009, Mark Henne from Pixar came to UCSC and gave a talk on crowds in the movie Wall-E. You can watch the video here:
I was impressed by the complexity of the AI underlying the characters that comprise the crowds, another reminder of just how complex seemingly simple real-world behaviors can be. I was also struck by how the entire process was optimized to ensure that the artists could, if desired, take a single character from a crowd and manually change its look and behavior. This is consistent with the entire filmmaking process at Pixar, which is optimized for complete artistic control over the end product. Games, in contrast, are much more willing to accept the limitations of the game engine being used.