Lucidity and beyond: how Toy Story's visual effects transformed cinema

the Guardian | 6/19/2019 | David Jesudason
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With its fourth instalment out this week, the legacy of the Toy Story series is immense. Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s relationship anchored the films in the buddy-movie genre, allowing writers to deftly explore themes of abandonment, ageing and consumerism. There were subtle nods to Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg. They were films that all the family could enjoy on different levels.

3 out of 5 stars.

Franchise - Effects - Legacy - Toy - Story

The franchise’s visual effects legacy is more complicated but just as significant. Toy Story’s release in 1995 not only marked the first feature-length movie to made entirely using CGI, but also helped Pixar win an animation arms race, with visual effects going on to become a staple of blockbuster films.

The crucial factor in all this is RenderMan, a software tool that enables film-makers to create photorealistic computer images. Like its predecessors, Toy Story 4 was made using the software, the first movie-grade renderer to be used for films. It had already been used in 1989 for The Abyss, in which it helped create the smooth-moving water tentacle that confronted Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), for stunning liquid metal effects.

RenderMan - Creation - Images - Ways - Animators

RenderMan allowed the creation of realistic images that moved in believable ways. Animators could spend less time, for instance, on depicting realistic lighting and more on creating skin tones that allowed images of actors to blend in seamlessly with “alien” environments. It gave major studios the confidence to invest in big-budget projects, such as the Marvel and DC franchises, and latterly the revival of the Star Wars series, ushering in the current era of blockbuster cinema. From Blade Runner 2049 to X-Men: Apocalypse, the list of films it has been used in is endless. Not bad for a programme now more than 30 years old.

“RenderMan produces pictures based upon virtual...
(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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