The Ancient History of Computer Animation

The Ancient History of Computer Animation

When you ask people about Pixar's early 3D animated films they may answer you Luxo Jr from 1986, but Ed Catmull, Pixar founder, made his first animated film while still at the University of Utah, way back in 1972.

Yes, almost 40 years ago. This fascinating film, uncovered by the son of one of Catmull's colleagues, shows how he made a model of his hand, before mapping it with Polygons and then painstakingly digitising the results. 

Catmull digitising the polygoned model of his hand.

The math he devised to render the film is the basis of modern 3D animation as we know it. Amazingly, it was rendered to actual 8mm film because the technology predated any kind of real time digital playback. 

This original blog post explains how the film was rediscovered and put online, in the comments the author deals with the Internet's predictable cries of 'Fake!'.

Cartoon Brew have written about the film and also include a film by Loren Carpenter which was made for SIGGRAPH 1979/80 and resulted in him being offered a job at Pixar.

The more I discover about the history of 3D animation the less I realise I know, similarly the greater my admiration and respect for the pioneers grows.

0 Comments Toby Young

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Toby Young
Wed 7 Sep 2011: 4:43pm

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