How far have we come in terms of animation?

A few weeks ago in our Introduction to Graphic Design lecture; we were shown screenshots and footage of the game Uncharted, at one point it was compared to an upcoming animated movie. Our professor brought up a question; will game graphics be as good as those of a modern day animated movie?

The answer to the professor’s question is yes. That isn’t my opinion, that is a valid prediction and a fact. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll notice how much technology has progressed in all realms, video games especially; video game physics has become more complex and malleable, graphics has become much more elaborate and detailed, and the animation is now smoother and more realistic. Things are only going to ascend from here.

I remember years ago when I first bought the PlayStation 3, one of the most anticipated games at the time was Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, as a fan of the series I bought the game. In the back of the box it advertised the graphics as being an interactive Pixar movie, having played the game I can honestly tell you that this statement is quite valid. The graphics and animation were quite uncanny for the time and still are impressive.


The reason I bring that up because since then and up until taking this class I haven’t been able to notice how advanced graphics and animation in games have become since then.  This is because like anything we have a lot of, we tend to take it for granted and not notice how good we have it. Game graphics and animation are rarely heralded for their achievements during its “run”, but rather before when trailers and footage appear and afterwards in future generations when they look back and show appreciation. If you’ve paid attention to past few years, you’ll see that video games today have reached the standards of the animated movies of yesterday.

Since the introduction of consoles like the Nintendo 64, the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation, 3D computer graphics has become a staple of video game animation. Simultaneously, 3 dimensional computer animation was on the rise with the growing popularity of Pixar thanks to their blockbuster hit Pixar. During the nineties there was a popular show by the name of Reboot that last from 1994 to 2001, which was the era of the fifth-generation console, Reboot was the first 100% computer generated television series. 


When you take a look at Reboot today, its animation seems very outdated, even by the standards of the PlayStation era is was quite inferior.


Now you may think I’m being unfair comparing an old television show to a video game, so I’ll try bringing up a movie this time. Compare the in-game graphics of Tekken 6 released in 2009 with some Pixar movies from the first half of the 2000s. While the Pixar movies are superior due to more detail, you have to give credit to Tekken 6 for nearly reaching that same standard in the gameplay.



Going back to my original point, as you can see, games have managed to reach movie standards, but we’re still questioning if games will be up to par with movies. It will, but we won’t notice since movie animation will remain two steps ahead until consoles have video cards and other hardware enough to support games like that and they start having even bigger budgets.

One must also take into account that it’s harder to animate games than it is to animate movies and shows. This is because animators for movies and shows have the luxury of scripts and storyboards in which they know exactly what to animate, animators for games do this as well but only for cutscenes. For the games, they need to animate every situation that the player would get into, often times they’d miss some places which would result in hidden glitches.


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