The World's First 3D Rendered Film [VIDEO]
Forty years ago Ed Catmull, a computer scientist, pioneer of computer graphics and one of the founders of Pixar, created (along with Fred Parke, and Robert B. Ingebretsen) what is believed to be the first digital rendered 3D film: an animated version of Ed Catmull’s hand. It’s pretty incredible when you think this was 1972, and would go on to become the foundation of video game graphics, Hollywood special effects, and computer animation. In fact, much of this technology is still the basis for 3D animation today.
The footage came to light when the son of Robert B. Ingebretsen found an 8mm reel of the tape in the family archives. He digitized it so the world would get to see the remarkable film, along with the “making of” materials, which included making a plaster cast hand that could be used to map the polygon vertices into a 3D model. You can read the full story behind the film here.
It feels more timely than ever this week, which introduced us to Wacom’s revolutionary Inkling Pen (below). The pen allows you to sketch on paper and immediately digitize your work into vector graphics, as if by magic (or, you know, the electronic recording of your hand strokes… but anyway). You can then transfer the data onto your computer and export it into Photoshop or Illustrator or wherever for further editing. Proof that the last 40 years has been an incredible time for computer animation.
From the first use of computer graphics in a feature film, 1976’s Futureworld, which actually featured the hand animation above along with an animated face, through Star Wars’ 3D wire-frame graphic for the Death Star trench-run briefing, to Superman‘s first computer-generated title sequence, and mind-bending CGI use in films like Tron. Onwards all the way to 1995’s Toy Story—the first fully animated feature film—to today where people can sit at home and create fanmade trailers using After Effects from the comfort of their PCs. Along with the use of 3D modeling in video games, generative animation and techniques like digital sculpting and texturing that allow for photorealistic images, computer animation is now a major part of our cultural lives. And you only need to look at the recently released Rise of the Planet of the Apes to see how far the process has come. It makes you wonder what the next 40 years will bring.