Computer animated film

is a feature that has been computer-animated to appear three-dimensional on a film screen. Computer animation is the process used for generating animated images. While traditional 2D animated films are now made primarily with the help of computers, the technique to render realistic 3D computer graphics (CG), or 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI), is unique to computers.


The more general term computer-generated imagery (CGI) encompasses both static scenes and dynamic images, while computer animation only refers to the moving images. Modern computer animation usually uses 3D computer graphics, although 2D computer graphics are still used for stylistic, low bandwidth, and faster real-time renderings. Sometimes, the target of the animation is the computer itself, but sometimes film as well.
Computer animation is essentially a digital successor to the stop motion techniques used in traditional animation with 3D models and frame-by-frame animation of 2D illustrations. Computer-generated animations are more controllable than other more physically based processes, constructing miniatures for effects shots or hiring extras for crowd scenes, and because it allows the creation of images that would not be feasible using any other technology. It can also allow a single graphic artist to produce such content without the use of actors, expensive set pieces, or props. To create the illusion of movement, an image is displayed on the computer monitor and repeatedly replaced by a new image that is similar to it, but advanced slightly in time (usually at a rate of 24 or 30 frames/second). This technique is identical to how the illusion of movement is achieved with television and motion pictures.

Animation methods

3D game character animated using skeletal animation
3D game character animated using skeletal animation. The position of each segment of the skeletal model is defined by animation variables. In human and animal characters, many parts of the skeletal model correspond to the actual bones, but skeletal animation is also used to animate other things, with facial features.

There are several methods for generating the Avar values to obtain realistic motion. Traditionally, animators manipulate the Avars directly. Rather than set Avars for every frame, they usually set Avars at strategic points (frames) in time and let the computer interpolate or tween between them in a process called keyframing. Keyframing puts control in the hands of the animator and has roots in hand-drawn traditional animation.

In contrast, a newer method called motion capture makes use of live action footage. When computer animation is driven by motion capture, a real performer acts out the scene as if they were the character to be animated. His/her motion is recorded to a computer using video cameras and markers and that performance is then applied to the animated character.

2D Flash animation In this gif of a 2D Flash animation each 'stick' of the figure is keyframed over time to create motion.


Toy Story (1995)Toy Story (1995) was the first completely computer-animated movie made by Pixar Animation Studios. Following the success of short film Tin Toy (1988), the company was approached by Disney to produce a computer-animated feature film told from a small toy's perspective. While films like Avatar (2009) and The Jungle Book (2016) use CGI for the majority of the movie runtime, they still incorporate human actors into the mix.
Shrek (2001)
Shrek (2001)
was originally set up to be a live-action/CG animation hybrid with background plate miniature sets and the main characters composited into the scene as motion-captured computer graphics. The results were not satisfactory. DreamWorks Animation then turned to its production partners at Pacific Data Images (PDI), who helped Shrek get to its final, computer-animated look.
Ice Age (2002)
Ice Age (2002)
was originally conceived in the 1990s during the Disney Renaissance. Blue Sky Studios got the opportunity with the Ice Age script to turn it into a computer animated comedy, Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha took over as the directors.
Final Fantasy VII Advent Children
Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (2005)
Japanese computer-animated film directed by Tetsuya Nomura, written by Kazushige Nojima, and produced by Yoshinori Kitase and Shinji Hashimoto. Developed by Visual Works and Square Enix.
Happy Feet (2006)
Happy Feet (2006)
directed by George Miller. The film does incorporate motion capture of live action humans in certain scenes. Produced by Animal Logic for Warner Bros. is one of four films that was nominated by AFI's TOP 10 Animated List.

Realism and films

Joy & Heron - A typical example of realistic animation. Computer animation can also be realistic with or without the photorealistic rendering.

"Spring", a 3D animated short film made using Blender. CGI short films have been produced as independent animation since 1976.