Monday, 14 March 2011

critical study

CGI animation history:

Computer generated imagery (CGI) is more than 40 years old. Its growth has continued with the expansion of the electronic industry, Internet capabilities and extensive advancements in CGI technology. Most of the innovators of CGI technology worked in university laboratories and research labs in the early 1960s. Their goal was to create pictures from digital computer data. Artists and computer scientists collaborated to create the images that drive the computer and film industries today.

Star Wars made in 1977. This is the first movie to use 3D computer animation was the iconic film Star Wars, in 1977. A 3D wireframe view of the Death Star trench was depicted as a training aid for rebel pilots. The animation was quite basic, and did not have any kind of textures or shading applied to the walls of the trench. Again, though, it was quite an innovation for its time.

(The Famous "Death Star Trench" From Star Wars 1977)

Toy story

Toy story is a 1995 American computer animation film,the first Pixar film to be made, as well as the first feature film in history to be made entirely with CGI. This film directed by John Lasseter who bring the 3D animation film to our life.

This film story about a cowboy toy is profoundly threatened and jealous when a fancy spaceman toy supplants him as top toy in a boy's room. The story is very simple but make the people laugh. I love the all of the characters in this film because every single of them has their own personality. That was unbelievable as animator give the life to character and make them near realistic.

I remember the first animation film 'star war' did not have any kind of textures. But Toy Story did textures and light very perfect. After 4 years the Toy Story 2 came to the cinema again in 1999 when the Toy story successful in the cinema. As well as Toy Story 3 came to the cinema with 3D glasses on June 13 2010 and got a lot of new characters in the film and story was very funny same as Toy story 1. The Toy Story 3 with 3d glasses It was means 3D animation is part of our life now and we can not deny.

I have seen the Toy Story 3 in cinema that was great movie i have ever seen. The Toy Story films and characters always hold a very special place in audience hearts and i am so excited to be audience to enjoy in a whole new way in 3-D technology. With Toy Story 3 shaping up to be another great adventure for Buzz, Woody and the gang from Andy's room, i thought it would be great to let audiences experience the first two films all over again and in a brand new way.

I choose Toy story animation to analysis due to this film stand for history of 3d animation and animation evolution. A lot of 2D animator still think about 2D animation is the king of animation in audience hearts and the animation audience think the same way as 2D animator think. But after the 'Toy Story' came to the cinema then the audience were change their mind. Will the 2D animation going to disappear in the future as still a long topic in the animation industry. There are nobody knows about what going to happen between 2d and 3d animation in future. Some of people said 2d animation gonna be die in the future but just predict no any evidence. But one thing are same between the 2d and 3d animation that is animation principle. Animation principle is the rule of the animation whatever u do in 2d or 3d animation, which never change in the future.

Well, Animation can doing like 3D in computer without hands to draw the character and background on the paper. Toy Story give the change of animation style and use the new technology to make animation. Pixar studio did it very well I think 3D must be the king of the animation in audience heart in the future.

Animation auteur : John Lasseter

In 1978 John Lasseter left high school to enroll on the same course as Tim Burton and Henry Selick. In 1982 he joined the Disney studio as an animator. Not long afterwards Disney began work on the first film to use computer animation, Tron. Lasseter was able to get an early glimpse of the film's 'light cycle' sequence and says:

It absolutely blew me away! A little door in my mind opened up. I looked at it and said, `This is it! This is the future!'

He persuaded Disney to let him do a thirty-second test that combined hand drawn animation with computer backgrounds. Lasseter recalls:

It was exciting, but at the time, Disney was only interested in computers if it could make what they were doing cheaper and faster. I said, `Look at the advancement in the art form. Look at the beauty of it.' But, they just weren't interested.

Soon afterwards Lasseter left Disney for Lucasfilm, where Edwin Catmull (a key figure in the history of computer graphics, who is now Pixar's chief technology officer) was starting up a computer division. In 1986, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, purchased the computer division of Lucasfilm and incorporated it as an independent company, under the name Pixar, where he now serves as chairman and chief executive officer.

Over the next decade, the Pixar studio, located in Point Richmond, California, led the computer animation industry both technically and aesthetically. Lasseter directed the studio's first short film, Luxo, Jr. in 1986. Two years later, another of the studio's shorts, Tin Toy, also directed by Lasseter, became the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award. Lasseter's shorts, shown each year at SIGGRAPH, established him and Pixar in a pre-eminent position in the rapidly developing world of CGI. Pixar worked on a large number of advertisements before producing their first full-length cartoon feature, Toy Story directed by Lasseter and released in 1995. Since then the studio has produced three more features and has several more in various stages of development.

Animation Technique :

Animation is older than cinema, indeed almost as old as photography. Niépce made the first still photograph in 1826, just six years before Plateau invented the Phenakistoscope. The Zoëtrope appeared just a year later in 1833. These two devices were examples of what today we would call drawn animation, presenting a series of pictures to the viewer in rapid succession to give the illusion of movement. While such toys were highly popular in the nineteenth century, it was not until the birth of cinema at the end of the century that animated films could tell stories.

Before the advent of CGI in the 1980s, animation techniques could be divided into two broad categories - drawn animation and model (or stop-motion) animation. The former involves photographing a series of two-dimensional images, usually drawings but sometimes cut-out shapes, while the latter uses three-dimensional puppets and models. Both techniques developed rapidly in the early years of cinema, with Cohl (Fantasmagorie, 1908) and McCay (Little Nemo, 1911)among the drawn animation pioneers and Starewicz (The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman, 1912) the pre-eminent puppet animator.

The invention of cel animation by Hurd in 1914 was a key milestone. Not only did it reduce the work required to produce drawn animation by eliminating the need to redraw the backgrounds, it also made it possible to divide the work up among a team of specialists. One artist could design the characters, one draw the backgrounds, another produce key character frames as outline drawings, while yet others would work on the less inventive tasks of inking in outlines or filling in character movements ('in-betweeners'). The development of 'rotoscoping' by the Fleischer brothers was another key improvement, leading to much more realistic character movement.

While the cel technique transformed drawn animation into a streamlined production-line process, model animation remained very much an individual art. As a result it languished, while by the 1930s cel-animated shorts had become part of nearly every film programme. As well as Disney, several of the studios, Warner Brothers and MGM in particular, had flourishing animation departments. Disney produced the first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 and from then on released a new one roughly every other year.

The advent of widespread television in the 1960s had a profound effect on film programmes. First newsreels were abandoned, as television news proved more efficient and immediate. Cartoon shorts were edged out more slowly, but became rare by the end of the 1960s. The animation studios, instead of making five-minute shorts for cinema exhibition, started making thirty-minute TV cartoons for children (Top Cat, Deputy Dawg andThe Flintstones for example). While stories of necessity became more complex, the cartoon drawings themselves became highly simplified to meet the budgets that TV imposed.

Within the domain of animated shorts almost every conceivable technique has continued to be used, but until recently cartoon features have been produced exclusively using cel animation. Indeed, for more than forty years, from Snow White (1937) until The Secret of NIMH (Bluth/Goldman, 1982) almost all the feature-length cartoons came from a single studio, Disney. Model animation, while often used for special effects in fantasy and science fiction films, was not used for a feature-length animated film until Nightmare (1993).

Despite the success of Nightmare we have not seen many more stop-motion 3D cartoons. Indeed there has been just one, Chicken Run (Lord/Park, 2000), although the long middle section of James and the Giant Peach (Selick, 1996) is entirely stop-motion. Instead there has been a series of very successful 3D cartoons generated completely by computers, starting with Toy Story in 1995. Before we consider whether there is a causal relationship between the apparent failure of stop-motion and the undoubted success of CGI, we need to investigate how and why the latter has developed.

The Impact of CGI on Stop-Motion Animation

CGI technique have been used in different area nowadays. Such as CGI technique in stop-motion area that save a lot of budget and very successful.

The exception is Dreamworks SKG, which financed the very successful Chicken Run (Lord/Park, 2000) as part of a 250 million dollar, five picture contract with Aardman Animation. It is worth asking what is the secret of Aardman's success and whether they will be able to continue making feature-length 3D animated films using stop-motion when everyone else has switched to CGI.

Part of the answer surely lies in Aardman's success with its Wallace & Gromit series. These three half-hour films have been extremely popular on television all over the world and, along with Creature Comforts, account for Nick Park's three Oscars. While the income from these short films has been minute in comparison with that from feature film successes like Toy Story or Chicken Run, they have created a very large, world-wide audience that is familiar with, and attracted to, the Aardman style.

As well as strong stories, the emphasis on humour is something that Aardman shares with Pixar. Both avoid the excesses of sentimentality characteristic of much of Disney (as well as the saccharine songs) and the dark expressionism that characterises much of Selick's work. Both share a delight in visual and verbal puns, in the spoofing of film genres and in rich visual detail. Indeed, there is a strong affinity between the 'look and feel' of Aardman's plasticine and that of Pixar's 'virtual plastic' (it is not just the toys in Toy Story that appear to be made from plastic, the insects in A Bug's Life do too). It is not surprising that both companies have a profitable sideline in merchandise - toys, T-shirts and mousepads, as well as books, videos and DVDs - based on key characters such as Wallace, Gromit, Woody and Buzz.

Successful as Chicken Run was, something may have been lost in the transition from shorts to features. The large number of characters involved meant that puppet making became more of a production line, with the use of moulded plastic instead of plasticine for some chicken body parts. With so many people working on the film (upwards of 200), keeping the animation consistent inevitably resulted in a lessening of the stamp of individuality that characterised the earlier, shorter pieces.

Aardman have been experimenting with CGI, though Peter Lord has said that trying to copy clay animation exactly using CGI would be a 'very sterile exercise because it is just copying' - what interests him is 'devising a new language' for CGI animation. As he says:

Well, there is something about working with the materials. There is a fundamental difference between working with your hands and your arms and your fingertips, and working on the keyboard. .... You grab the puppet with two hands, and you feel the whole thing move, you feel the twist of the chest away from the hips, the roll of the shoulders. . . .

If stop-motion animation has had problems, disappointments and failures, so has CGI animation. As well as the disappointment of Mars Attacks! (which had a foot in both camps), there has been one CGI failure of truly epic proportions. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Sakaguchi/Sakakibira, 2001) had a budget of $137 million dollars, but has so far recouped just $32 million dollars.

Final Fantasy is perhaps the most ambitious CGI feature to date. The film, which took four years to make, put synthetic human actors into roles that could easily have been played by real humans and placed them in completely synthetic sets. The film, based on a series of hugely popular, interactive, role-playing computer games, was produced by Square, the company that produces the games, and co-directed by Sakaguchi, the game's originator. With world-wide sales of the nine-part game series totalling more than 26 million units, Square must have thought it had a ready-made potential audience of game-players familiar with the fantasy themes, comfortable with computer graphics characters, and eager to see the next instalment.

The CGI animation has been rightly regarded as a technical triumph, so why was Final Fantasy such a commercial failure? The answer, at least as far as western audiences and critics were concerned, was the weakness of the story and the lack of pace in the way it was told. Lacking a compelling plot, the glamour that human stars can bring to a film, and without much humour, the film had little but its special effects to hold the attention of the audience. As a result of its failure at the box office, Square announced in February 2002 that it was closing the studio in Hawaii that had created the film.

Although Disney has relied on its partner, Pixar, to produce CGI cartoon features that it then distributes, it has made one attempt at a (partial) CGI feature itself, Dinosaur (2000). Although the dinosaurs in Dinosaur were created using CGI, the scenery was live action, with backgrounds shot all around the world. The film made $350 million at the box-office, but it cost $200 million to make - at one time nearly 900 people were working on it. Its poor financial performance caused Disney to close the CGI unit it had created to produce the film, though it has since re-opened it on a much smaller scale. The accepted explanation for the failure of Dinosaur is the familiar one - a poor plot - which recycles ideas from The Lion King and Tarzan.

The Impact of CGI on 2D Animation :

If CGI competes head-on with stop-motion, it also competes with 2D cel animation. Largely aimed at the same audience, they are thus competing for the budgets that studios are prepared to spend reaching that audience. There is also a more subtle form of competition that occurs within the animation community itself, where a relatively fixed number of practitioners have to choose which tools they will use to realise their ideas. There is considerable evidence of a growing drift of animators towards CGI.

As well as competing, CGI has also been used with cel animation in a co-operative manner. In the late 1930s, Disney developed the 'multiplane' camera system, an elaborate animation stand that allowed several separated cel layers (foreground characters and background sets), to be moved independently frame by frame, giving a powerful illusion of three-dimensional space. An updated version of this technique uses CGI to replace the background layers.

Films produced using this approach are sometimes called 2D/3D hybrids. In such films the foreground characters are handled in a conventional 2D manner (though often using computers to assist the animators to do tweening) but background scenery - buildings and trees for example as well as features such as crowds - are modelled using 3D CGI. This is becoming an increasingly popular way of producing 'traditional style' cartoons - Disney used CGI for backgrounds and crowd scenes on Mulan (1998).

One advantage of this approach (which it shares with 3D CGI) is that it makes it simple to adjust the position of the camera and even move it during a shot. While the 'multiplane' system allowed the camera to perform tracking and zooming shots, it could not cope with a true pan because rotating a constant background image introduces unacceptable perspective distortion. CGI offers much more freedom because the background is redrawn in the proper perspective for each frame.

Evidence for the impact of CGI on 2D cel animation is not hard to find. The success of the four features Pixar has so far produced (Toy Story (1995), A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), and Monster's Inc. (2001)) has not been matched by Disney's own traditional 2D offerings. The following table shows the budgets and world-wide gross box-office figures for the four Pixar features.




World-wide Box Office

Toy Story


$30 million

$356 million

A Bug's Life


$30 million

$358 million

Toy Story 2


$90 million

$486 million

Monster's Inc.


$115 million

$523 million

Pixar 3D CGI Animated Features since 1995

The second table shows the budgets and world-wide gross box-office figures for the seven Disney animated feature released since Toy Story appeared in 1995.




World-wide Box Office

The Hunchback of Notre Dame


$70 million

$303 million



$70 million

$250 million



$70 million

$303 million



$150 million

$435 million

The Emperor's New Groove


$80 million

$160 million

Atlantis: The Lost Empire


$90 million

$139 million

Lilo and Stitch


$80 million

$190 million

Disney 2D Animated Features since 1995

It is dangerous to read too much into these tables, but in contrast to the Pixar figures, there has been a clear reduction in gross box office takings for Disney's traditional offerings over the last few years. The apparent success of Tarzan is countered by its very high budget, which in turn was due to the very large number of artists who worked on the film. It was from this point that Disney started making dramatic cuts in its overheads.

Dreamworks SKG, which commissioned and distributed Antz (1998) and Shrek (2001), the two very successful CGI animated features produced by PDI, has also made traditional animated features itself in the last few years. As with Disney, these traditional features have been failing to match the box office success of the CGI releases, as the following tables show.




World-wide Box Office



$60 million

$152 million



$50 million

$482 million

Dreamworks SKG (PDI) CGI Animated Features




World-wide Box Office

The Prince of Egypt


$60 million

$221 million

The Road to Eldorado


$95 million

$75 million

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron


$48 million

$97 million

Dreamworks SKG 2D Animated Features

Again it is dangerous to draw too many inferences, but there is a pattern here too. Note that both Road to Eldorado and Spirit are 2D/3D hybrids, using CGI for backgrounds and crowd scenes.

Animation and Audiences

Understanding the audience for animation is not easy and there is very little in the way of 'film theory' to help us. There are three distinct forms of popular animation - the five-minute cartoon, the thirty-minute TV series and the full-length cinema feature - although only the last two are still being made. The TV series have much in common with TV situation comedies, indeed it is not unreasonable to see such cartoons as 'sitcoms for kids'.We see a strong emphasis on broad 'physical' comedy, on verbal wit and word play and, perhaps most obvious of all, the signs of very limited budgets. In the UK, Sky transmits seven channels almost entirely devoted to the genre and cable TV in the USA does much the same, so there is clearly a sizeable young audience.

For example, the Simpsons has a clearly identifiable visual style, much of the humour is verbal - highly complex and referential with considerable sexual innuendo. The visual humour too is full of allusions - to famous films, paintings and books. While it does appeal to children, much of the humour is aimed well over the heads of six to eleven year olds. The humour of South Park - anarchic, indeed scatological - is even more clearly aimed at a teenage audience. The animation appears to be much cruder than The Simpsons, though this is the result of a conscious stylistic decision rather than mere cost cutting.

Not all TV cartoon series use 2D cel animation. Max Steel (which only ran for three seasons) was produced entirely using CGI, as is the new British TV series, Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. Both feature the same sort of synthetic human characters (or 'synthespians') as Final Fantasy, albeit of a more comic-strip character. As yet none of these 3D CGI-produced series has been really successful. It seems probable that the TV audience for thirty-minute cartoon series is more impressed by humour and wit and an idiosyncratic visual style than it is by 3D 'realism'. In Treehouse of Horror VI (1995), a Simpsons' Halloween special, a PDI-generated Homer3 gets trapped in a 3D CGI world. There has been little or no demand from the audience for a repeat of the experiment.

Max Steel

I think this helps us understand the appeal of Toy Story. John Lasseter said:

Ever since I worked with computer animation, there have been all sorts of people that have always desired and thought that [photo-realism] is the goal. For me, the way that we work is that we use sort of realistic imagery only as something to shoot for. We say that reality is just a convenient measure of complexity. Because if you can create a tool that can produce something that looks almost real then we like to take a step back and produce something the audience knows does not exist, that it's a cartoon, it's caricatured, it's fantasy, it's something, but then use these tools to make that look so believable in the world that we're creating.

The creators of Shrek clearly agree. The original animated model of Princess Fiona was very realistic - she looked human. But next to an ogre and a talking donkey, a realistic-looking princess seemed out of place. At an early screening of the film, Jeffrey Katzenberg said:

When we had placed Fiona in the movie, which is a fairy-tale world, it looked completely wrong.

The co-director of Shrek, Andrew Adamson added:

With a talking donkey, you've got leeway because no one's ever seen one. Fiona had to be a little bit stylised so she fit into this somewhat surreal, illustrative world.

If the CGI cartoons we have seen so far have been fantasies, their success has surely come from the fact that they are fantasies designed to appeal not just to children, but to families. As Lasseter says:

Now will Pixar do a film for adults? We already have - we've done four of them, they happen to include kids too. And that's something I believe in very, very strongly. We can make a film that is fantastic for adults, is truly entertaining for teenagers, adults without kids as well as families. .... I think the work at Pixar fulfils a need in the world for this type of film. I also go to family films really just for kids and I'm bored silly, and I don't want to go back a second time, even if the kids do. I love the idea that adults love our films as much as kids do.

Conclusions - Futures

We face an uncertain future, not least because of the rapid pace of technological change, so any attempt at prediction is likely to fail. Even so, some signs are relatively clear.

Computers seem guaranteed to get faster, for the next ten years at least. In itself this would just mean that rendering times would decrease, but we can also expect that CGI software will become both more powerful and easier to use. More powerful, in the sense that it will be able to produce an ever wider range of effects; and easier to use, in the sense that the level of computer knowledge required will decrease. These trends could lead to significant changes.

what will be the next 'big thing' for the animation industry :

CGI is clearly here to stay and its use, in live-action feature films at least, is likely to increase. It has revolutionised special effects, virtually eliminating the use of traditional matte painting for special effects and drastically reducing the need for stop-motion model work on films such as The Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars series.

As far as animation is concerned however, uncertainties remain. Stop-motion for cartoon feature films has never been healthy and is certainly under threat. Studios are unlikely to invest in it until success seems more guaranteed. Aardman's partnership with Dreamworks is surely the key to this. While Aardman show every sign of being able to continue making successful short films, its problems with The Tortoise and the Hare sound a warning note. A successful second feature for Dreamworks - and one starring Wallace and Gromit has a good chance - could cement the future of stop-motion features.

Those within the industry seem convinced that although 2D cel animation will survive, it will be largely in the form of hybrid 2D/3D cartoons. As well as reducing costs, using CGI for backgrounds allows for a more dynamic camera, matching the increased demand for thrills and excitement. In any case, the training offered to would-be animators these days is heavily biased in favour of CGI, so young artists with traditional 2D cel skills are becoming harder to find.

As more and more everyday objects become computerized (the average new car now contains at least a dozen tiny computers) it becomes both possible and cheap to make fully computerized, miniature models. We might expect to see a revival of stop-motion as the process of animating such models become simpler and more intuitive. As an example of what I mean, consider Stuart Little. Currently animators have to choose between a virtual, CGI-generated Stuart on the one hand, or a stop-motion model Stuart on the other. In the future one can imagine a real, robotic, model - an intelligent puppet- that exhibited the same range of expression and movement and did so in a semi-autonomous fashion. Where today, reshooting stop-motion scenes is a labour-intensive, completely manual process, such devices would make it possible to design and record such motions and then repeat them, with variations, at will. Stop-motion would effectively be transformed into live-action.

While audiences have eagerly welcomed CGI toys, insects, monsters and aliens, they do not seem ready to embrace believable human CGI characters. If Final Fantasy had had a more compelling story things might have been different, but the losses incurred by Square are likely to discourage another attempt in the near future.

Pixar, with four very successful features to its credit, seems unlikely to fail either technically or artistically. In John Lasseter it has a master animator who understands how to use computers in the service of story telling and the company has others (Pete Docter, Brad Bird) who are almost as capable. Dreamworks SKG's intense rivalry with Disney and PDI's demonstrated ability to make very successful animated features will ensure that Pixar does not have a monopoly of success. It is likely, however, that at least some of the many CGI cartoons currently planned or in production will turn out to be failures, but that has always been true of filmmaking.

Let me end with two quotes that seem to sum up the likely future. First, from John Musker, director of Disney's soon-to-be released 2D/3D hybrid, Treasure Planet:

Some people say it's like sound versus silent films. I hope it's not like that, but some of this is driven by the public. The trick is, the executives' "reading " of the public's desire, so if they feel they can only be successful with CG, then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. ... I think 3D films are going to go through a phase. I think a lot of studios will get on the bandwagon and there are going to be some bad ones out there.

And finally, from John Lasseter, for me the 'sine qua non' of CGI cartoons:

In about 2 years there will be a series of two to three computer animated films that will not do well at the box office and a hand-drawn film that is great and will rake it in. The headlines will be 'The Resurrection of Hand Drawn Animation. Computer Animation is Dead'. It is in the hands of the artist, and animation is a wonderful thing. I actually think it can do far more than we've ever seen. Both puppet, computer and hand-drawn will co-exist well. Basically what makes money is entertaining films. If it entertains, it fundamentally has the best chance of making money at the box office.

documentary ' Pixar story'

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