Issue: Volume 35 Issue 6: (Oct/Nov 2012)

Timeline

By: Karen Moltenbrey

35TH ANNIVERSARY HIGHLIGHTS


1977

JANUARY 1977:

Charles Williams' "Metamorphosis of a Flower," the earliest example of computer art from our magazine, was created by a hand drawing that was digitized and then modulated by a beaded mosaic pattern. Writes Williams: "The value of the system to a graphic artist is that it allows him to use a computer to generate complex variations of drawings which would be exceedingly difficult to prepare by hand."

1982

FEBRUARY 1982:

False-color Landsat imaging helps researchers study the effects of animal herding on a 34,000 sq. km area of Kenya.

APRIL 1982:

When Disney's TRON was envisioned, few companies knew how to create CG effects, yet the film needed all-digital shots inside a video game.

JULY 1982:

For this one-minute "Genesis effect" during Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a dead planet comes to life thanks to the first cinematic use of Fractais, particle effects, and 32-bit RGBA paint software from Lucasfilm's Pixar group.

NOVEMBER 1982:

Graphic design takes a new twist as artists experiment with 3D logos such as this Olympic ski symbol.

1983

AUGUST 1983:

"Shaded Marbles" was generated by a Pascal program written by Michael Rieger to run on a PDP-11/34 computer.

NOVEMBER 1983:

Computer-aided design and drafting software helps the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill create a "fast-track" digital building plan for Pacific Bell that can be altered while construction is in progress.

1985

JULY 1985:

Robert Abel achieved two computer graphics "firsts" for a TV commercial by creating a character, Sexy Robot, that looked as though it were made from reflective metal and by animating it with natural, human-like motion.


1986

APRIL 1986:

A novel technique, entailing high-speed image processing and solid modeling, creates 3D images of the human heart in action. The interactive visualization, developed at the Mayo Medical School, enables doctors to analyze heart volume as blood is pumped through color-coded chambers during the cardiac cycle.

MAY 1986:

Arguably, the first 3D character in a feature film is a knight who leaps out of a stained-glass window in Young Sherlock Holmes.

1987

JANUARY 1987:

Adapting its video game technology, ISG Technologies releases the 3DMV workstation, a dedicated, diagnostic system that lets physicians "fly through" 3D reconstructions of the human body in real time.

1988

MAY 1988:

Parametrics–a radical new approach to design software that preserves functional relationships among parts and features even when a model is changed–gains momentum.

1989

SEPTEMBER 1989:

NASA develops high-end data visualization programs and makes them freely available in the public domain.


1990

APRIL 1990:

Finite-element analysis moves to engineers' desktops, as new, "easy-to-use" programs are introduced by Aries, Rasna, and MSC (used to create the image above). Observers are skeptical, predicting it will take at least 10 years for software for non-experts.

DECEMBER 1990:

Jacqueline Schaffer draws air-brush quality medical illustrations using a Macintosh computer, a Wacom tablet, and Adobe Illustrator.

1991

JUNE 1991:

A new wave of software that combines the artistic freedom of animation programs with the engineering precision of CAD systems is released.

OCTOBER 1991:

Director Jim Cameron develops Terminator 2, which doesn't simply include CG but relies on it for the liquid-metal, shape-shifting T-1000 character, which is modeled, animated, rendered, and morphed at ILM.

DECEMBER 1991:

Beauty and the Beast is the first Disney film with hand-drawn characters in a 3D background. Every frame is scanned, created, or composited within CAPS.

1992

MAY 1992:

The Legend Quest medieval fantasy game from W. Industries represents a departure from "shoot-'em-up" virtual reality applications into the realm of role playing.

JULY 1992:

Computer animation lends a psychedelic air to the Grateful Dead's latest music video, as the band's logo transforms into a space-ship. The video contains 3.5 minutes of CG created with software from Xaos.

1993

APRIL 1993:

National Cancer Institute researchers use Cray supercomputers to simulate proteins that provoke the AIDS virus to replicate. Then they design molecules, such as the one above, that will inhibit the proteins from performing their biological functions.

JULY 1993:

Cab driver Raul taxies gamers through a bizarre adventure in Hell Cab: A Time Machine with a Checkered Past; the title is one of the first to use CD-ROM technology.

NOVEMBER 1993:

Moxy, the result of a collaboration between Colossal Pictures and the Cartoon Network, is television's first full-body 3D cartoon character to be animated in real time.

DECEMBER 1993:

(Top) Myst creators use reflection, refraction, and shadows in raytracing the 2500 images in the game. (Inset) Autodesk's 3D Studio helps create an authentically grungy and menacing atmosphere in The 11th Hour.


1994

FEBRUARY 1994:

A breakthrough in sketching software, StudioPaint from Alias Research provides 2D tools for generating real-time sketches that can be combined with 3D models from other Alias programs such as Studio.

SEPTEMBER 1994:

Animators at PDI mapped data from Ascension's Flock of Birds magnetic motion-capture system onto a Viewpoint skeleton model for "The Late Lenny Chat."

1997

MARCH 1997:

Visible Productions develops techniques to generate 3D models of the human body from the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human dataset.

JUNE 1997:

(Top) Animatek World Builder Toolkit software creates natural environments. (Inset) In Episode II, Yoda was always a digital character rather than a rubber puppet, which allowed the Jedi to make more masterful moves.

SEPTEMBER 1997:

Ken Edward helped advance both medical research and illustration with his Cell Visualization Project, for which he re-created the internal structures of cells in 3D.

OCTOBER 1997:

Lara Croft, created by artists at Core for Tomb Raider, is one of the most popular action stars in gaming. She is modeled and animated in 3D Studio R4, and textured with Photoshop.

1998

JANUARY 1998:

Digital Domain, the lead studio on Titanic, breaks new ground by putting thousands of digital people, animated with the help of motion capture, onboard the ship. The studio also creates CG set extensions and digital water.

JULY 1998:

Imagineers design DisneyQuest, a real-time 3D venue.

OCTOBER 1998:

PDI becomes the second studio to create a successful feature animation with 3D computer graphics. For Antz, PDI creates new crowd and water-simulation systems and muscle-based facial animation tools.

NOVEMBER 1998:

In A Bug's Life, the shading team started with a painting, creating the red leaf behind Flik entirely with shaders.

NOVEMBER 1998:

(Top) John Kahrs' "Supercluster" is an example of raytacing technology. (Inset) To create the Disney Channel's Rolie Polie Olie, animators at Nelvana and Sparx use a variety of off-the-shelf and customized software to bring to life all the show's 3D objects.

FEBRUARY 1998:

"Geri's Game" is the first Pixar production to feature a main human character. The goal was to take human and cloth animation to new levels.

1999

JANUARY 1999:

In Mighty Joe Young, the gorilla himself is at times a CG character created at ILM (above) or Dream Quest Images. Both studios develop custom hair-raising software for the film.

MAY 1999:

To create The Mummy's Imhotep, ILM uses a combination of models and displacement maps that carve the geometry. To move him, the team uses a Vicon8.

MAY 1999:

A unique camera rig was used to slow down the live action to show a bullet path, a technique called FloMo, or Bullet Time, for The Matrix.

JUNE 1999:

To unfold the battle droids, the animators used keyframe techniques, but to march the droids into battle, they relied more on mocap.

OCTOBER 1999:

Mindscape, along with Jordan Mechner, migrates the popular Prince of Persia game to 3D, using NewTek's LightWave to build the characters and Motion Factory's Motivate system to achieve the same fluid motions.

DECEMBER 1999:

Sega's Dreamcast has a 128-bit architecture that gives it more power than any other console on the market to deliver games like Midway's Ready 2 Rumble.


2000

JULY 2000:

Without CG water it would be impossible to suggest the violence of The Perfect Storm, which received a visual effects Oscar nomination.

DECEMBER 2000:

Disney's The Secret Lab creates one spotless digital dalmatian named Oddball, several spotted CG pups, and wipes the spots off a real pup digitally for the film 102 Dalmatians.

2001

MARCH 2001:

EA Sports' F1 Championship Season 2000 for the PlayStation 2 contains imagery modeled by a former Formula One car designer; the digital cars are exact replicas.

APRIL 2001:

Winner of the first Oscar for best animated feature, Dreamworks/PDI's irreverent comedy Shrek sends its cast on a quest through finely detailed CG landscapes.

AUGUST 2001:

Although it fails commercially, Squares' ambitious Final Fantasy, which features the first cast of photorealistic digital actors, stirs the imagination of the press and CG community.

DECEMBER 2001:

Weta Digital creates thousands of CG effects to help the film version of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring win an Oscar for visual effects.

2003

FEBRUARY 2003:

Using PowerAnimator, Softimage|3D, and various other tools, animators made Dobby (Harry Potter) stand and move like someone who has been ill-treated for many years.

FEBRUARY 2003:

Gollum, who was modeled and animated in Maya, was challenging to create because he needed to have human-like characteristics and because he had to share many screens with human actors.

2004

JULY 2004:

The Imageworks effects team modeled and rendered around 40 "hero buildings" to give a digital Spider-Man a virtual environment filled with realistic surroundings.

DECEMBER 2004:

Animation in The Polar Express was derived from performances captured with a 360-degree facial and body-performance capture system developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks.


2005

NOVEMBER 2005:

Disney's first all-3D feature film, Chicken Little hatched a new CG animation approach.

DECEMBER 2005:

Aslan, the realistic lion god of Narnia, was created at Rhythm & Hues.

2006

JANUARY 2006:

Pushing the technological envelope, Weta Digital crafts the great ape Kong in this epic remake of King Kong.

JULY 2006:

ILM introduces the always-CG captain Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Nearly a year later the studio spiked his performance with more motion and emotion for Pirates of the Caribbean 3.

NOVEMBER 2006:

Director George Miller wanted Happy Feet to be photoreal even though the penguins would burst into dance; to do so, Animal Logic tiptoed around penguin anatomy.

2007

JANUARY 2007:

Stereo 3D takes off in theaters and becomes popular for IMAX releases, upping the ante for CG artists.

July 2007:

Director Michael Bay liked shooting explosions on location, so ILM often had to fit its CG robots into smoky live-action plates for Transformers.

NOVEMBER 2007:

Imageworks uses performance capture to power stylized CG humans for Beowulf, a next-gen "fine action" animated film.

2008

JANUARY 2008:

Four years in the making, Assassin's Creed contains groundbreaking work in character animation and digital environments.

MAY 2008:

CAD/CAA's green focus goes further then ever, using computer-based energy analysis programs to drive sustainable design.

AUGUST 2008:

The "Animation Mother" hologram, which plays 1300 frames, was displayed at the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival.


2009

JANUARY 2009:

In Benjamin Button, the lighting and shading crew combined characteristics from three maquettes of Button at age 60, 70, and 80, and photographs of Brad Pitt.

JUNE 2009:

Carl's thick jacket and boxy trousers created unique problems for the cloth-simulation team to solve. At first, character developers tried making Carl's hair thick, but it was distracting in Up.

JULY 2009:

Dragonfly, a technology preview from Autodesk, delivers an online room-planning platform through the use of cloud computing.

DECEMBER 2009:

Virtual filmmaking is christened and stereo 3D proves itself when the long-awaited film Avatar from director James Cameron and animators at Weta take the box office by storm.

2010

OCTOBER 2010:

An acoustic-enhanced room designed by SmartGeometry workshop group is rendered in Bentley's Generative Components software.

2011

MARCH 2011:

Rango was the first animated feature created with live-action visual effects instead of motion-captured performances.

JULY 2011:

CAD and rapid prototyping become more fashionable across surprisingly atypical industries. Iris van Herpen, a Dutch avant-garde couture designer, employed 3D prototyping to produce wearable masterpieces.

AUGUST 2011:

Weta captured the performances of as many as six actors at a time wearing head rigs and suits with LED markers, on location in Planet of the Apes.

2012

DEC / JAN 2012:

Lighting artists at Pixomondo learned that the continuity in Hugo was in its consistent beauty. The film received an Oscar for its visual effects.

FEB/Mar 2012:

The scale of The Old Republic universe, with its thousands of characters, required BioWare to balance aesthetics with gameplay.


2013

2013 AND BEYOND:

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