Animación 2D / 3DAnimationNews

“Toy Story”: 25 years of 3D Animation

By 19 November 2020 No Comments
toy_story

Image: Pixar

Today, November 19, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of “Toy Story” premiere.  Pixar’s first fully computer-animated film. The film tells the adventures of a group of living toys on the seventh anniversary of its owner, Andy. Joss Whedon, Andrew Staton, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow wrote the script, and Randy Newman composed the soundtrack for the first Pixar feature film, directed by John Lasseter.
In 1995 it became the highest grossing film in the United States, and the second in the world. More than 110 professionals collaborated in the animation process. On average, it took three hours to work each of the 1,560 shots that make up the film’s final edition. And 400 mathematical computer models were used to produce them.

Toys come to life when we don’t look at them

“Toy Story” immerses us in the universe of Andy’s room, a boy who is about to turn seven years old. It narrates the adventures of a group of toys that, before the arrival of new dolls, suffer because they are left aside by their owner. An emotional story that reflects on themes such as friendship, illusion, nostalgia, identity and personal aspirations. We have talked about the success of “Toy Story” with Esteve Garriga and Álex López, 3D Generalist coordinator and VFX teacher respectively at L’Idem.

“Toy Story” was the first feature film produced in 3D. What did this fact mean?

Esteve Garriga: It was the starting gun for other films made entirely in 3D and for more 3D to be incorporated into films with real actors. Before “Toy Story” everything was 2D animation and maybe some movie had some 3D effect in which it was redrawn on top.
Álex López: It was certainly a revolution! Not only because of the technical change it involved -which also resulted in a great visual change-, but also because of the change in the narrative and in how to tell the stories.

The film became a benchmark in digital animation, marking a new milestone in the history of Animation. In what sense?

EG: “Toy Story” put a new player in traditional animation systems. It was a huge leap in terms of theme, style, depth and animation technique.
AL: It not only meant an aesthetic and visual revolution, but it also changed the way of telling stories and the audience it was aimed at. The musical untouchable was abandoned and films with more complex plots were made. Layers of meaning and depth were added, which made it also connect with the adult audience. It went from a children’s audience to a more universal audience.

What type of 3D Animation does “Toy Story” propose, compared to the previous 3D Animation?

EG: CGI stands for Computer-Generated image, that is, anything created 100% with a PC. “Toy Story” is the beginning of everything! Before this film there were only short-film animation tests. CGI was completely new terrain for everyone.
AL: When it comes to animation strictly, Pixar is a follower of Disney. Lasseter himself came from Disney and in the studio they adopted the 12 principles of Disney Animation as their own. Logically adapted to 3D animation, whose demands are different in some aspects from traditional animation. However, there was a big change in the type of stories that were raised. The fact of abandoning the musical, which has been the emblem of Disney for many years and, above all, a much more cinematic proposal than what Disney proposed. The way the cameras, lighting, etc. started to work. it was closer to real-action cinema than animation. In addition to working with artistic criteria, many technical aspects about light or lenses, among others, had to be taken into account.

Why is John Lasseter considered a visionary?

EG: Because you were one of the first to start using existing technology for the purpose of 3D animation. In addition, he has set style when it comes to animating.
AL: Because you saw the potential in a tool long before it actually delivered the visual results it does today. It was difficult to be able to once that in the cold 3D of that time it could evolve in the way that it has. The early Pixar animations were limited to objects. Getting a good visual result with humans and organic characters has taken longer. Even in “Toy Story” itself, the visuals of humans don’t work anywhere near as well as toy characters. The technical limitations of the tool were very evident and, every year, better and better results are being achieved.

What new 3D effects did this technique allow?

EG: Taking into account the time when “Toy Story” was made, this technique allowed all the effects since everything was completely new. But, as you could see in the movie, they lacked much knowledge of how to model. There were also difficulties in terms of scene lighting. Thanks to these needs, more was invested in this technology, a fact that allowed it to be developed to how we know it today.

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toystory
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Images: Pixar

From your point of view, why was it so successful?

Esteve Garriga: The goal of animated films is to reach the whole world. If you saw “Toy Story” as a child, you probably liked a few things. Now, when you see it as an adult, you can see other details and nuances that you did not understand as a child.
Álex López: The story is wonderful. It is a film that has aged wonderfully, it continues to connect with the new generations. “Toy Story” tells a great story, and the sequels have managed to make the story evolve in an organic and natural way. And that is extremely difficult to achieve. It was a film as good as it was surprising that it changed animation from then on.

From your point of view, why was it so successful?

Esteve Garriga: The goal of animated films is to reach the whole world. If you saw “Toy Story” as a child, you probably liked a few things. Now, when you see it as an adult, you can see other details and nuances that you did not understand as a child.
Álex López: The story is wonderful. It is a film that has aged wonderfully, it continues to connect with the new generations. “Toy Story” tells a great story, and the sequels have managed to make the story evolve in an organic and natural way. And that is extremely difficult to achieve. It was a film as good as it was surprising that it changed animation from then on.

“Toy Story” was also Pixar’s calling card. How would you define the proposals of this study?

Esteve Garriga: They were the first and they had no competition. Naturally now there are many studies and some very powerful, but more or less all follow the same formulas in terms of script to explain their stories. From releasing its first short film to producing a movie, Pixar spent a few years. And its investors made a big bet. Today it is a successful company.
Álex López: Pixar has set the trend in the last 20 years and has also changed the direction of Animation. It has had all the studios with their tongues out trying to adapt to this new way of telling stories and doing animation. It has maintained this dominant and benchmark role ever since, despite the fact that there are now many studios doing high-quality, high-budget projects. Pixar is Pixar.

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