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."
False-color Landsat imaging helps researchers study the effects of animal herding on a 34,000 sq. km area of Kenya.
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.
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.
Graphic design takes a new twist as artists experiment with 3D logos such as this Olympic ski symbol.
"Shaded Marbles" was generated by a Pascal program written by Michael Rieger to run on a PDP-11/34 computer.
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.
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.
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.
Arguably, the first 3D character in a feature film is a knight who leaps out of a stained-glass window in Young Sherlock Holmes.
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.
Parametrics–a radical new approach to design software that preserves functional relationships among parts and features even when a model is changed–gains momentum.
NASA develops high-end data visualization programs and makes them freely available in the public domain.
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.
Jacqueline Schaffer draws air-brush quality medical illustrations using a Macintosh computer, a Wacom tablet, and Adobe Illustrator.
A new wave of software that combines the artistic freedom of animation programs with the engineering precision of CAD systems is released.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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."
Visible Productions develops techniques to generate 3D models of the human body from the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human dataset.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Imagineers design DisneyQuest, a real-time 3D venue.
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.
In A Bug's Life, the shading team started with a painting, creating the red leaf behind Flik entirely with shaders.
(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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
To unfold the battle droids, the animators used keyframe techniques, but to march the droids into battle, they relied more on mocap.
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.
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.
Without CG water it would be impossible to suggest the violence of The Perfect Storm, which received a visual effects Oscar nomination.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Imageworks effects team modeled and rendered around 40 "hero buildings" to give a digital Spider-Man a virtual environment filled with realistic surroundings.
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.
Disney's first all-3D feature film, Chicken Little hatched a new CG animation approach.
Aslan, the realistic lion god of Narnia, was created at Rhythm & Hues.
Pushing the technological envelope, Weta Digital crafts the great ape Kong in this epic remake of King Kong.
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.
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.
Stereo 3D takes off in theaters and becomes popular for IMAX releases, upping the ante for CG artists.
Director Michael Bay liked shooting explosions on location, so ILM often had to fit its CG robots into smoky live-action plates for Transformers.
Imageworks uses performance capture to power stylized CG humans for Beowulf, a next-gen "fine action" animated film.
Four years in the making, Assassin's Creed contains groundbreaking work in character animation and digital environments.
CAD/CAA's green focus goes further then ever, using computer-based energy analysis programs to drive sustainable design.
The "Animation Mother" hologram, which plays 1300 frames, was displayed at the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival.
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.
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.
Dragonfly, a technology preview from Autodesk, delivers an online room-planning platform through the use of cloud computing.
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.
An acoustic-enhanced room designed by SmartGeometry workshop group is rendered in Bentley's Generative Components software.
Rango was the first animated feature created with live-action visual effects instead of motion-captured performances.
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.
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.
Lighting artists at Pixomondo learned that the continuity in Hugo was in its consistent beauty. The film received an Oscar for its visual effects.
The scale of The Old Republic universe, with its thousands of characters, required BioWare to balance aesthetics with gameplay.
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Artomatix has developed AI capable of texturing vast terrains in open 3-D worlds in a realistic, non-repetitive way – and fast.