pixar cgi then now comparison
Source: twitter

This "Real Cat" in 'Toy Story 4' Shows How Far CGI Tech Has Come

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Apr. 21 2019, Updated 11:07 p.m. ET

If you want to see how much CGI animation has progressed over the years, all you need to do is pop in any movie that's been recently made and compare it to a title from ten years ago.

You cannot rely on memory for this, and I'm telling you, the way you fondly remember the first Toy Story in your mind is completely different from what it actually looks like by today's standards.

This is pretty much the story of modern-day technology, however. Look back at the iPhone 4. There's no way you'd pay $650 for that phone today because your money will get you so much more. You wouldn't stand for the photo quality on that phone, or the screen size and resolution, and certainly not the old 40-pin proprietary charger Apple rammed down our throats. Well, they're still using proprietary chargers that are apparently made out of peanut brittle, so there's that.

Even though we all know tech-growth is exponential, it's kind of hard to appreciate just how much we've accomplished as a species until we're hit in the face with that evidence.

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Consider this stretching cat from the 'Toy Story 4' trailer that slap in the face.

Seriously, this thing looks like a real life cat just waking up from a basking-in-the-window snooze, and the rest of Twitter agrees. Heck, I was fooled myself after seeing a still of the image.

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toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter

There were tons of people who thought that this was an actual cat that was just catting around on a green screen, but boy were they wrong.

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toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter

It was difficult for people to believe, and can you blame them? From the individual, uneven hairs poking out to the way its body undulates, this is 100 percent feline.

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toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter
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On the flip side, some animals from the first 'Toy Story' are looking gnarly by comparison.

toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter

Sure, the film was revolutionary when it first came out, much like Super Mario 64 or the first Crash Bandicoot game were when they first came out. But this dog looks like a grade-school computer graphics project compared to the stuff Pixar's churning out now.

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toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter

Someone tweeted the two computer-generated animals to show how far things have come and the difference is mind-blowing, even when the dog's face isn't all contorted and snarly.

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It brought up a very good point...

toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter

...maybe re-release the old films with some updated CGI? Sure, that would cost a ton of money and I'd imagine getting people to pay to see a new version of a movie would be a hard sell...but then again, Pixar's got some die-hard fans, so I'd imagine a little bit of an upgrade might be worth it.

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The difference is made even more apparent in Pixar's human models.

toy story  cat cgi
Source: twitter

Just take a look at Andy from the first film and compare him to the bright-eyed boy from the Toy Story 4 trailer below.

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toy story  cat cgi
Source: pixar

A bit mind-blowing, isn't it?

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Both software and hardware play a huge part in this upgrade, however.

toy story  cat cgi
Source: renderstory

The folks at Render Story did a wonderful point-by-point breakdown of the different technologies employed in animating the T-Rex from the 1992 Jurassic Park versus the Indominus Rex that appeared in 2015's Jurassic World.

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The original Jurassic Park T-Rex model, however, does stand up surprisingly well today.

Embedded Image
Source: Universal pictures

That's mostly due to how Stephen Spielberg elected to use CGI. For most of the film, the T-Rex was shown in dark environments, with tons of shadowing adding to the illusion. 

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Compared to the smoothness and complexity of details in 'Jurassic World' however...

Embedded Image
Source: universal pictures

...it's clear to see that modern tech has the upper hand. But it's not like the old JP films are unwatchable by comparison. That slick uses of animatronics, combined with CGI, certainly helps.

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Sadly, the 'Star Wars' prequels' CGI looks like something straight out of a PS3 game.

revenge of the sith cgi
Source: lucasfilm

The green screen is a little too obvious. The surfaces are too smooth and the suspension of disbelief required to actually think that Obi Wan is riding a Robert Plant lizard in this screenshot is way too high.

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Compare our lizard above to the Fathier from 'The Last Jedi' below, however.

last jedi cgi
Source: lucasfilm

I mean, if you were to tell me that this was some kind of cousin to an alpaca that was found in some remote part of South America, I'd totally believe you. That's hella lifelike.

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To bring it back to Pixar, let's just appreciate this still of Dash from the first 'Incredibles' film.

incredibles  dash
Source: disney pixar

Creepy smile aside, this was considered cutting edge when the first film debuted.

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But take a gander at his face models in 'Incredibles 2'.

incredibles  dash
Source: disney pixar

It's night and day. We've got way more expression, we've got freckles and I'd argue a better sense of who 'Dash' is as a character.

What are some other films today that you find unwatchable? I'm sure there are some scenes from the earlier Iron Man films that'll look absolutely silly when we compare them to what we'll see in Avengers: Endgame.

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