My favorite animated performance in Pixar’s Brave was the Queen-as-a-bear character. It was a fine piece of cartoon-inspired anthropomorphized animation that supported the storyline and convinced the viewer that there was a struggle of personalities occurring within the bear.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the animation of the tiger, Richard Parker, in Ang Lee’s film adaptation of the novel Life of Pi. The aims of the Rhythm & Hues animators who created the tiger were quite different than those of Brave‘s animators, but it is no less an artistic accomplishment.
In Life of Pi, the tiger shares the screen for long periods of time with a live-action actor, and the goal was to create a performance that was as naturalistic, animalistic and photorealistic as possible. They succeeded on all counts, and created a convincing character that the viewer never questions as being anything but a flesh-and-blood tiger. In fact, the film’s visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer, said in an interview that there were even shots of a real tiger mixed in seamlessly with the CG: “By doing that, it set our bar high for CGI. We couldn’t cheat at all. It pushed the artists to go and deliver something that’s never been done before, something as photo-real as anyone has ever done with an animal.”