Time to Go to the Movies!

Every summer there are one or two animated blockbusters that pack people into the theaters. We get excited to see these movies as much as anyone else, but for animators and CG artists, it can be more than just entertainment. Animated features are a great source of inspiration for our work – whether it’s the color palette, effects, textures, typography or musical score. In the best works, every frame is a piece of art.

Even though the scale of our projects is a little different (Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo’ took $90 million and 2.5 years to produce after the script was created), budget and time limitations become their own creative challenge. Yet we are always searching for ways to teach, amaze and inspire within strict parameters and guidelines.

During our daily team regroup, we asked each member of The Creative Team which animated movie they consider to be their favorite and why. Check out the results from the poll (Click to enlarge image):


Most of us agreed that Pixar has done a remarkable job over the years telling heartfelt stories through their detailed character development, refined storyline, powerful musical score, and realistic environments and texturing. Chief Creative Officer Michelle Peterson said:

“Regarding [the first] ‘Toy Story’, I was absolutely blown away by the fact that an entire film was purely CG. I still remember the level of detail in the wood paneling of the floor and the texture of the big, orange wingback that Andy and Woody spin around and around in upon entering the living room for the first time. I couldn’t believe that kind of tangible-ness could be achieved using a ‘digital’ medium. It was so new, so different, so beautiful in a way that nothing like it before had been.” 

We also discovered that most of our favorites scenes in these selected films involved little to no dialogue and relied heavily on the storyline, musical score and technical execution of the characters’ expressions and gesturing. The scenes showing Carl and Ellie’s life together in ‘Up’ and Wall-E and Eve’s adventures in ‘Wall-E’ were mentioned by several. Disney’s ‘Paperman’ was another that caught our attention for this and for use of a new technique called “Final line advection” which, through custom software, the animators were able to blend CGI and the traditional Disney hand-drawn images.

Another favorite was the eerily beautiful “Three Brothers Story” within the ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ movie.

“I was completely mesmerized by [this] style of animation. I found it to be beautiful, simplistic and eerie – which fit the mood of the story so perfectly. I also really appreciated its subtle use of music and sound effects.”  Kristina DeRycke, Medical Animator

While most of us focused on movies that were released within the last decade, a few called attention to some of the great animations from before the turn of the millennium, which reminded us to appreciate earlier animation techniques.

“I really love Yuri Norstein’s short film, The Hedgehog in the Fog. It was made using traditional paper stop-motion animation techniques and it is always a great reminder to me that a beautiful and expressive story can be told in any media. The energy, emotion, and amazing atmosphere of each scene [inspire] me each time I watch the film.”  Adam Pellerite, Medical Animator

 “A not-so-well-known animation that everyone should see is The Man Who Planted Trees. A beautiful animation [with a beautiful story, it is] a feast for the eyes and the soul.”  Jeff Dash, Senior Medical Animator

To view the other animations listed in the infographic poll, please visit:







Now we want to hear from you! Did we nail it? What did we miss? Please tell us about your favorite animated movie by leaving a comment. We’ll incorporate all feedback we receive by Friday into the above infographic and post the updated version next week. Check back to see the results!

One thought on “Time to Go to the Movies!

  1. Pingback: The results are in… | The Radius Digital Science Lab

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