Footage From Pixar's Old 1988 Demo Reel Is Hilariously Bad

Monday, 20 March 2017 - 3:16PM
Technology
Monday, 20 March 2017 - 3:16PM
Footage From Pixar's Old 1988 Demo Reel Is Hilariously Bad
Image credit: Pixar, YouTube
If you're like us, you associate Pixar with two things: incredibly lifelike animated children's movies and the vehement denial that you cried at the ending of Toy Story 3. But it wasn't always this way.

While Pixar has always been at the forefront of computer animation, this technology has come a long way over the past thirty years—as can be seen in an old video from 1988 which shows off the company's then-groundbreaking work, which now looks like something a first-year 3D design student put together in one night:



Did you get a look at that clown at 3:32, the one that looked like a melted plastic figurine? Compare that to Up, which gave us realistic stubble on the protagonist's face, or the 5.5 million hairs Pixar had to animate on Sully for Monsters, Inc.

You have to imagine the kinds of conversations that Pixar designers were having with their financial backers, including, of course, Steve Jobs. It's a good thing Pixar was in it for the long haul, and that Jobs was so patient. This video was made only a few short years before work began in earnest on Toy Story, providing another testament to how quickly computer animation technology was growing at that time.

Perhaps most exciting of all is the question of where CGI will be in another thirty years. Fractals, an obscure and bizarre mathematical phenomenon first popularized by Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1970s, was used to animate realistic lava in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, for example. We're betting that one day we'll look back at the flawless CGI from modern films and cringe like we're watching The Last Starfighter.
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