The art of animation went to infinity and beyond with Toy
Story – the world’s first completely computer-generated movie. With an all-star
cast of voice talent headed by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and a score by Grammy
winner Randy Newman, the film became the number one box office champion of 1995
and won a special Academy Award (Tim, 2015).
Toy Story also represents an amazing breakthrough in the way
movies are made, when the Walt Disney Studio joined creative forces with the
computer pioneers at Pixar, they didn’t just make a movie – they made history (Julia,
2015). Until now, feature animation meant hand-drawn cartoons – shot one frame
at a time but instead of using traditional ink and paint. Toy Story’s animators
gave their characters life by moving three-dimensional images created a
computer. From there, state of the art computers built the geometric shapes
into lifelike puppets before rendering them with colour, texture and shadows.
Director John Lasseter and his computer artists and scientists spent four years
designing everything you see in the film – every house, character, and cars (Julia,
2015). It wasn’t just computer magic that made Toy Story such a success, it was
the heart and spirit of fun that the filmmakers put into the characters and
story. Every animator is child at heart and the best toys for them are the
computer programs that they invented to put high-tech graphics into the hands
of cartoon animators (Julia, 2015).
When John Lasseter first saw the computer animation of any
kind when he was working at Disney as an animator on Mickey’s Christmas Carol
and two of his friends were working on Tron, and from there on he thought that
was the next step – the next plateau towards the future of animation (Tim, 2015).
Tron was the first feature film to explore computer graphics set inside a video
game, the environment, vehicles and special effects were all computer-generated
imagery. Walt Disney feature animation continued utilising computer assisted
animation to create elaborate three-dimensional architecture – like the
ballroom in Beauty and the Beast, the massive stampede in the Lion King is
another good example of how computer-generated models can be combined with
hand-drawn characters for a spectacular effect (Tim, 2015). Disney teamed with the
high-tech innovators at Pixar to invent a computer assisted production system
which revolutionised the way animation is coloured and layered, and since then
it’s been used on every Disney animated feature.
John Lasseter and the artist at Pixar were also inventing
new techniques for making character based movies by computer, therefore
experimental short films were unlike anything audiences had ever seen (Susan,
2015). When Tin Toy came out in 1988, it was the first computer animated film
to ever win an Oscar as the best animated short of 1989. Its success fuelled their
dreams of creating a full-length movie by computer (Susan, 2015). The
production team were inspired by Tin Toy with the ideas that they developed in
there of toys being alive, and they thought there was a tremendous potential
from there so they came up with the idea for the buddy picture with two toys
instead of two humans.