8th July 2019

Computer Animation A Brief History – Part II

We pick the story up in the mid 1990s where Computer Animation was still in its infancy. There was one film that caught the eye of the world with quality storytelling and amazing Animation and that was Toy Story (1995).


Did you know: Toy Story was Pixar’s first major motion picture and it was the first fully made Computer Animated film to ever run for an Oscar for Best Writing: Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.


In 1996 the Academy Awards gave John Lasseter a Special Achievement Award for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film.




But Toy Story was the exception, the focus began to steer towards the esthetics and techniques, losing sight of content. By investing in Computer Animation, executives’ main concern was to show that the capital invested would be apparent and top of the line, this way it would bring back two types of investment, the box-office success, (the curiosity of the audience to see this new effect) and investment from other film companies.  


The blockbuster came with force and established a long-lasting relationship with the world, meaning that films were to be made a certain way and released purely for its commercial value, if not successful than who would invest in their next project, or invest in the latest technology?




In recent years Computer Animation has been applied to all types of media outlets, it has given a way for businesses to apply their vision onto social media, the big screens, the small screens and print. Special effects and CGI are used for any number of reasons, from enhancing an image to correcting a mistake, from changing color settings to include elements that weren’t originally there; all these methods have helped the producer achieve their goal. It is likely that every image you look at is manipulated with one form of Computer Animation or another. It has become an inherent part of the process of and not merely a backup tool.


The software and hardware for Computer Animation being made more accessible in a technical and financial way has meant more production companies have surfaced, many of these now being sought after for their specialized solutions. The film Titanic (1997) was assisted by ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and Digital Domain. ILM populated the deck of the ship and Digital Domain broke new ground with programming of realistic water and ocean effects. Filmmakers no longer need to rely on one or two production houses, they are setting them up themselves (in-house), using as a model George Lucas founder of ILM production company which was formed specifically for the film Star Wars (1977) allowing the director complete artistic control over the look of the film. WETA Digital post-production company based in New Zealand and founded by filmmakers such as Peter Jackson came to prominence with The Lord of The Rings trilogy (2001-2003), which won them an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Before this, WETA Digital had scarcely been heard of outside of Hollywood. After the success of the production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy they were commissioned to make other big budget Hollywood films, most notably King Kong (2005) for which they won another Academy Award.  




We are at a stage with Computer Animation where there are no limits to what can be done, so therefore, there are no rules. Companies are able to bring life to what once before could not be envisioned. There is an influx of books, comics, fantasy adaptations that were not produced until now because of budgetary restrictions. Remakes and sequels are also a big part of Hollywood giving way to directors’ such as George Lucas to recreate and “correct mistakes” from past films, such as Star Wars – Special Edition Trilogy (1997), where he added heavy CGI effects to complete the film in a way that wasn’t possible in 1977.  


Digital technology has given quality cameras, powerful editing software, and advanced graphic packages, these are no longer the preserve of industry professionals. Anyone with enough desire and technical knowledge can delve into the world of media production. Technology is made much easier, cheaper and accessible. Every year we see hardware and software simplified. We are almost at the point where we will all be able to use it without prior knowledge or study of it.




Have you noticed how technology has changed Animation?


We are making Animated Video Productions for businesses, with rapid turnaround and amazing feedback that help these businesses propel their work.



Check out our portfolio and success stories here.



Adorno, T. (1991) The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture London: Routledge


Ascher S. & Pincus E. (1999) The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age London: Plume

Cook, P. & Bernink, M. (1985) The Cinema Book London: BFI

Darley, A. (2000) Visual Digital Culture: Surface Play and Spectacle in New Media Genres London: Routledge

Hayward, P. & Wollen, T. (1993) Future Visions: New Technologies of the Screen London: BFI

Hayward, S. (2000) Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts Oxon: Routledge

McGilligan, P. (2003) Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light New York: Wiley

Nelmes, J. (2003) An Introduction to Film Studies London: Routledge

Vaz, M. & Duigan, P. (1996) Industrial Light and Magic: Into the Digital Realm London: Virgin

Wasko, J. (1994) Hollywood in the Information Age Cambridge: Polity Press

Worthington, C. (2009) Basic Film-Making: Producing Switzerland: AVA


Journals/ Magazines:

American Cinematographer (Hollywood: ASC Holding Corporation)

– September 1999

CineFex Magazine (California: Valley Printers)

– January 2005 Issue no. 100

– January 2009 Issue no. 116



King Kong (2005) Peter Jackson

Star Wars (1977) George Lucas

Star Wars – Special Edition Trilogy (1997) George Lucas

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Peter Jackson

Titanic (1997) James Cameron

Toy Story (1995) John Lasseter





Share the Story

About the Author

Anish hails from London and holds a degree in software engineering from the University of Manchester. Following his education, he worked for several years in the financial industry as a platform administrator before founding Revolution Productions in 2008. In addition to over seven years of video production, Anish is seen as an industry professional, adding his insight in publications such as VentureBeat, ReelSEO and Wistia.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top