Computer animation came into fruition in the 1990s, notably with the release of Toy Story by Pixar, though that is a bit deceiving to the medium’s birth. Pixar may have been the first to make the world of computer animation enjoyable and profitable, but the process of animating through a computer had been in development for decades before that. One of those gentleman at the forefront of computer animation was Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, who created A Computer Animated Hand, one of the first fully-rendered forms of computer animation. The New York Times (via Cinema Blend) announced that the short is now being added to the National Film Registry, to be preserved for future generations.
The movement of the hand may seem rudimentary in comparison to the fast-moving and detailed animation that comes out of Pixar these days, but back in 1972, A Computer Animated Hand was revolutionary. It is mind-boggling that this technology was being developed almost 40 years ago. Try not to get goosebumps as you watch it in the video below:
Each year, the National Film Registry (part of the Library of Congress) selects 25 films to join its catalog of works to be preserved for all time. It is meant to represent American culture, so important and significant films are chosen by the Library. The description that the Registry provides for Ed Catmull’s short is:
A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI (computer generated image) animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 film “Futureworld,” Catmull worked out concepts that become the foundation for computer graphics that followed.
This year, 2,228 films were nominated by the public. To view the full list of the 25 films being added to the National Film Registry this year, click here.
Source: Library of Congress