[This was written as a home assignment for a lecture in EKA university]
“The term CGI is a misnomer – the computer doesn’t generate the images. That would be like calling traditional animation Pencil-Generated Imagery. No matter what the tool is, it requires an artist to create art.”
- John Lasseter
It is year 1976 and it has been rather promising also for new technology innovations. There was a new computer company launched this year that’s called Apple Computers Inc. They already launched their new computer named “Apple I” with a strange price of $666.66. A Japanese company called JVC launched a new videotape called VHS to rival to the Beta tape. NASA unveiled its first space shuttle, the Enterprise to start the race of first man to the moon. A lot of technological innovations meaning that more were going into developing mathematical devices, computer chips that enabled for more complex graphical calculating.
Rather long has passed since the Golden Age of American animation. What happened especially for the American animation was the formation of animation union that demanded for the pay to be increased by 25% for workers. This meant that animations were then more expensive to make. Also the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948 which made showing cartoons in theatres more difficult as it had no guarantee that it can be showed there or not – pressuring theatrical shorts. Traditional animation was put in a pinch and it went in decline. Animation production became more of a challenge, lots of animation studios were closing down and Hollywood directors were looking for something new and more cost effective.
Computer-animated film was first created in 1971 with the animation “Metadata”. It was done in collaboration with National Film Board and Peter Foldes. 2D generated imagery was first sawn in the movie “Westworld” where CGI was used to give the infrared point of view of Yul Brynner’s gunslinger. Next in 3D, Nestor Byrtnyk had planned a 10 minute feature “Hunger” that was finished in 1973 which took them one and half a year to complete and become in 1974 the first CGI feature nominated to Oscar. This created interest in lot of people to study the CGI animation and made computers more popular. By the July 1976, at the University of Pennsylvania, Nestor and Marceli Wein introduced their “skeleton control” techniques for key-frame animation for creating dynamic motion. This new technology was that revolutionary beginning for computer animation.
The most significant happening in 1976 was the release of “Futureworld”. This movie was first major feature film to have used 3D computer generated images for the special effects. It was used to animate digitized versions of a face and a hand. This launched new possibilities for 3D animation industry to start developing and now George Lucas sent “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” into production. He promised to use this new 3D graphics tricks to produce seaming less atmosphere for the film, as not just for special effects but as integral part of the entire movie. This sure looks promising after the fall of animation golden age, as this brings new opportunities and ways of development. I can’t wait for the release of the new Star Wars as it promises the best unseen effects of animation. It’s even scary to think how far this can actually reach. Probably every future movie will have those 3D GCI to help make them more of a fantasy that directors intended them to be.