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Powered by breathtaking, pioneering achievements in computer-generated imagery, Computer Animation Classics is a sensory-overloading, roller coaster ride into the wildly experimental early years of digital animation.
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The short films in this anthology were made during the '80s, when commercials, network logos, and station IDs made the general public aware of the new medium of computer graphics (CG). Many of the films are portfolio pieces, demos, student works, and experiments in technique, without real story lines or characters. The look and even the subjects were largely determined by what was easy to do on a computer: candy-apple colors, merry-go-rounds, foil-leafed palm trees, mirrors, and twisting point- of-view shots.
A few of the films hold up well, notably the video to Mick Jagger's "Hard Woman," and it's interesting to contrast the weightless, metallic dinosaurs in "Chromosaurus" with the more realistic versions in Jurassic Park. Others have aged less gracefully: "Tony De Peltrie" looks even uglier today than it did in 1985.
Classics surveys only one strain of CG history; among the important omissions are Peter Foldes' groundbreaking "Hunger" (1973), the experimental works of John Whitney Sr., Ed Emshwiller, Lillian Schwartz, and Larry Cuba, the scientific films of Jim Blinn, and John Lasseter's brilliant Pixar shorts. The resulting disk is more effective as eye candy or a historical overview of one specialized area of CG than as a general entertainment. --Charles Solomon
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