Four Inspiring Pieces of Computer Animation

If my diet of computer animation existed solely of the work being produced by mainstream commercial studios, I might come to the conclusion that CG is a graphically stagnant, artistic dead end. Thankfully, I know better than that. I know that there’s plenty of amazing, forward-thinking pieces of computer animation being produced around the world. A lot of it exists on the fringes and doesn’t garner as much attention as commercial CG, but the animation points towards a truly original form of expression that is unique to the toolset and not reliant on mimicking earlier forms of graphic art. Below are four such pieces that explore the possibilities and potential of computer animation:

Topologies–Tiepolo (Excerpt) by Quayola (UK)

Pico by Takcom (Japan)

Prismatic Planes by Alex McLeod (Canada)

Chiral by Robert Seidel (Germany)


  • joe

    I also feel like mainstream CG is a little too straightforward. I don’t believe anything like the examples above have a place in mainstream feature films though, because ordinary people like imagery that’s recognizable and relatable. All this is really nice, but you don’t want to alienate your audience. It kind of reminds me of a Barnett Newman painting and the negative reaction by the average person.

    I think there needs to be a happy-medium between representational CG we’re used to in feature films and abstractness that can only be achieved in the computer. David O’Reilly’s style comes to mind, but I think he’s only scratching the surface of what can be done.

  • David Breneman

    The opening imagery of “Prismatic Planes”, the trees and crystal shapes illuminated in gold light, is oddly reminiscent of the interior of the Soviet Union pavilion at Expo 74.

  • http://artnote.blog.com Stephen

    Is Quayola named after the Brothers Quay?

  • http://www.robertseidel.com Robert Seidel

    I also don’t think mainstream CG will open, but I’m very much in hope that one day a visionary film director will integrate abstract artist sequences into a movie in an elegant, meaningful way, very much like Kubrick did with the slit scan sequence of Douglas Trumbull.

    There have been several film makers using abstract CG imagery (eg in Blueberry by Jan Kounen or Enter the void by Gaspar Noé), but these were create by post production houses, not single artists. And they were mostly used in a clichéd way of making drug sequence…

    Richard Baily, who sadly passed in 2006, was one of the few artist I’m aware of, that worked on several Hollywood movies and incorporated some of his ideas into films like Stay, Superman Returns or the Solaris Remake. But again, they were reduced to special effects only, probably because of the fear of the Hollywood system treating the viewer as an intelligent being that wants to be surprised :-)

    Surely the surface is just scratched… but at least I tried to put the (projection) surface onto buildings and sculptures to give CG another scale and create an alternate universe to the inbreeding fx/advertising/motion design industry -> http://vimeo.com/robertseidel/videos

  • JG

    Wonderful examples of investigating the aesthetic posibilities of the CG medium. There’s still so much more it is capable of.

    Wish more of it would reach the mainstream.

  • Manu R

    I wonder to which extend CGI is constrained by the off-the-shelf tools everybody uses. It still feels like the technology often dictates the artists. Few manage to make the tool their own. Is it because of the speed those tools evolve? There’s an interesting discussion to be had I think.

    • Oluseyi

      That’s a very astute observation. Watching those videos – and I’ll confess that I got bored quickly and stopped after an average of 30 seconds – I got the distinct impression that they were all made with 3D modeling out of Maya and nonrepresentational effects out of After Effects, and I started wondering how different the results would be if each animation was being created procedurally by programmer-artists.

      I think it would be instructive to look at how the output of the demo scene differs from these sorts of works.

  • http://altanimation.podomatic.com Joshua

    There is a lot of this type of imagery in mainstream motion graphics works