In 1983, Disney was testing a brand new technology that would eventually change the way everyone in entertainment makes animated films. Disney and Pixar animator, director, and now-Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter directed this short featurette about computer generated animation to show the advances that the studio was making towards 3D animation.
At the time they made this, Disney owned the film rights to Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story Where the Wild Things Are. They didn’t exercise those rights in time however, and Warner Brothers Entertainment eventually produced a live action film of the story in 2009. Seeing these beautiful test shots of the combination of 2D and 3D animation make us wonder what kind of gorgeous animated classic we missed out on. Tests like this became the building blocks of technology that, ten years later, would give us huge leaps forward in computer generated animation moments like the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast. It allowed the characters to dance through a computer-generated ballroom while the camera dollied around the characters and created the illusion of 3D space on the screen. While it’s hard to see how this technology led directly to something as detailed as, say, Merida’s hair in Brave (which called for a whole new program to be written), we can see the bones of animated moments from movies across our childhoods.
Today, animators are working to preserve the skills that are required for 2D animation through education and crowd-funded projects like Hullabaloo, but when this video was made computers were still finding their place in movie making. It’s incredible to see how far the technology has come.