Examples of CGI animation.
Tin Toy (1988).
This John Lasseter short film laid much of the thematic and visual groundwork for Toy Story. It features Tinny, a one-man band toy and his efforts to escape his infant tormenter, Billy.
The film’s animation isn’t as smooth or realistic as later films — Pixar’s proprietary PhotoRealistic RenderMan software was yet to match the ambition of the animators. Nonetheless, the film was enough to gain the interest of Disney, who later agreed to finance Toy Story.
Toy Story (1995).
Toy Story finally brought Pixar to the mainstream and established them as the dominant force of CGI animations for decades to come. Entertaining and hugely innovative, Toy Story was a deserved smash hit and created icons from its lead toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time — a true crossover from the once niche field of CGI animation.
This was the moment when battle lines were drawn between CGI animation studios. In 1998, Dreamworks disrupted the release of Pixar’s second feature, A Bug’s Life, with their own insect-centred CGI animation, Antz. For the first time, CGI no longer felt like a novel innovation, but as a new standard for animated filmmaking.
The Lion King (2019).
Like the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book, The Lion King reached new heights in CGI in its creation of a totally photorealistic African savannah. It was a controversial move for fans of Disney’s 1994 hand-drawn classic, but the results are spellbinding. Every shot of this remake — from watering holes and plains to the characters of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa — was rendered digitally, but appeared totally real. CGI animation had come a long way since A Computer Generated Hand.