Twenty years ago this coming Sunday, history was made when PIXAR and director John Lasseter won their first Academy Award for the animated short Tin Toy. But it wasn’t just a first for Lasseter. Tin Toy was the first Oscar-winning animated short to have been completely animated with a computer.
Lasseter and his crew at PIXAR had already pushed the limits of computer animation with their previous shorts, specifically Luxo Jr. (1986) and Red’s Dream (1987), right to the point that they needed to develop new software to bring Tin Toy to life. The animators’ biggest challenge was to convincingly animate the baby’s action in the film. If you’re looking for a good explaination of the technological leaps that were pioneered for this short, then I’d recommend animation historian Amid Amidi’s recently released book The Art OF PIXAR Short Films.
But beyond all the history that it is a part of, Tin Toy still remains an entertaining cartoon today. Enjoy.
Of course, there’s the irony that one of the films Tin Toy was in competition with was titled Technological Threat, as if presaging what PIXAR would become to the art of hand drawn animation. In actuality, Technological Threat strikes a middle ground, with director Bill Kroyer combining the hand drawn wolf character with the computer generated Dweebs and Blocky Boss characters and backgrounds. Also worthy of note is the name of Brad Bird, who would eventually work for PIXAR directing The Incredibles and Ratatouille, receiving a “Special Thanks” in the credits.