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Visual Effects Of Awesome / Animated Films

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Animated films are known for having great visuals.

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  • Bambi had more multiplane camera shots than any other film in Disney's history, and they are used to stunning effect, especially during the final shot of the opening, the "Little April Showers" sequence, and the ending. And then there's the painstakingly elaborate effects animation of the climatic forest fire...
    • Rather surprisingly, following a pile of cheaply made Direct to Video sequels by Disney, Bambi II was granted a budget and supervision in animation to match its predecessor. Some of the forest shots are as lush as the original film and some impressively animated panning shots are used, so much that regions outside the US considered it cinema worthy and released it in theatres first.
  • Beauty and the Beast was one of the first animated movies to use CGI, in the famous ballroom scene, and it has aged -very- well. The rest of the movie, especially when animating the Beast, or showing any shots of the Castle, are absolutely gorgeous and some of Disney's finest.
  • Big Hero 6: Disney invented the Hyperion engine for this movie and the results look amazing for its first outing. It is both aesthetically and technically impressive. Every street of San Fransokyo is unique and highly-detailed. In addition, the movie completely averts No Flow in CGI, as cloth, hair, liquid, fractal-like clouds, and Baymax's balloon-like body are rendered and animated with high accuracy.
  • The Black Cauldron: An underrated Disney classic! Just look at the extremely detailed backgrounds in the castles and the pastures! Oh, and this was also the first animated movie to use CGI and the results still hold up magnificently to this day.
  • The "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia. Especially when you think about the fact that it was originally made pre-computer, so it was all done by hand. In fact, Fantasia as a whole is filled with beautiful animation.
    • Fantasia 2000 is no slouch when it comes to amazing-looking sequences. The Firebird segment is the most prominent demonstration of this.
    • The Rhapsody in Blue segment may actually be an even better example the visual effects. The animation is ridiculously smooth and yet manages to remain in sync with the very fast paced "Rhapsody in Blue", thanks to an obscene amount of frames per second. It also pushed the limit of computers, by using nearly more colors than it could display.
  • Frozen has incredibly realistic renditions of ice and snow, especially the scene where Elsa creates her castle of ice.
    • The sequel takes it even further, with Elsa trying to cross a stormy sea by alternately freezing and diving through the high waves, fighting a Nokk (horselike water elemental), and ultimately taming and riding it across the water, which itself is tamed and turns glassy.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Ditto for this movie for being some of Disney's finest animation. Any scene featuring the titular Cathedral are painstakingly copied from the original building, considered a masterpiece of architecture. The way Medieval Paris is animated makes it look big and grand, and while perhaps not as polished as Beauty and the Beast, still counts for scenery porn when it's not being nothing short of epic during the climax's battle for the Cathedral.
    • Much was made of Hunchback's large crowd scenes, which feature hundreds of moving peoplenote . A computer program called CROWD, developed specially for Hunchback, allowed the animators to give it that extra little bit of realism.
  • From The Lion King, the wildebeest stampede. Even without the emotional torque that comes with the scene, the sight of hundreds of individual wildebeest thundering over the cliff is nothing short of spectacular.
  • Moana: Par for the course with Disney, but even by their standards this film is VERY well-animated. The ocean and scenery are absolutely breathtaking, with particle effects and finely-detailed scenery that shifts with the characters' movements that blows Frozen's out of the water. The water looks as realistic as never before, and this time around hair actually looks like real hair.
    • Maui's tattoos, which are animated in 2D on a 3D CGI model, constantly moving and interacting as Maui walks, with several unique character designs that blend in perfectly. This goes a step further when Moana and Maui are placed in hand-drawn animation in the middle of "Your Welcome", interacting with the fish seamlessly.
    • The movie also experiments a lot with animating light. Special mention goes to the scene in Tamatoa's cave where the cave turns dark and lights up with glowing neon colours. Unsettling yet gorgeous.
  • Mulan had some amazing CG effects such as the Hun army barging down on the outmatched Imperial Army was a truly amazing piece of animation, and terrifying.
  • Pinocchio. Just everything about it. The sparkle when the Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life, the multiplane pans through the village at morning, the ripples under the sea, all amazing, and not a single computer was used. There's a reason it's still called the most technically perfect animated film ever made.
  • The animation in Planes, despite being produced on a lower budget, is on-par with Pixar's.
  • The colors in Pocahontas! Oh god, THE COLORS! ...of the wind. No, but seriously. Check it out.
  • The Princess and the Frog is an amazing return to style for Disney Animation. There is an incredible amount of detail on buildings etc., lots of cool colors, and prepare to be blown away by "Friends on the Other Side", "Almost There" and "Dig A Little Deeper".. That last one takes the cake. It's jaw dropping in its use of lighting effects and it looks breathtaking.
  • Most of Disney's version of The Sword in the Stone is pretty by-the-numbers, but the Wizard's Duel between Merlin and Madam Mim is spectacular, both in animation and characterization.
  • The hair in Tangled. They went out of their way to make it wet, blow, touched. Then the detail paid to the textures, water, everything but the skin. That's probably for the best.
    • There's also the unbelievably beautiful "I See the Light" scene. Anyone who didn't find their jaws dropping at the sheer gorgeousness of the lanterns slowly emerging and surrounding the two watchers so obviously falling in love with each other has a heart of stone.

    Dreamworks Animation 
  • The Bad Guys has gained a lot of love for its seamless blend of modern CGI and 2D effects. Its unique visual style takes inspiration from both French and Japanese animation, in particular Akira Toriyama and Lupin III, while being distinct enough from them to stand out on its own.
  • How to Train Your Dragon. Some of the most well-animated hair and fur Dreamworks has produced (checkout the Manly Facial Hair on Stoic the Vast), as well as eyes that obviously had irises BEHIND a transparent cornea, as opposed to painted on top of a ping-pong ball shape and stuck into the sockets. Not to mention Hiccup's WET hair. Each character also moved in a unique fashion, and ZOMFG The Red Death.
    • The flying scenes especially had enough details to qualify as more than just Rule of Cool dragonriding. When Toothless wasn't being cartoony, his behavior and movements were incredibly realistic, down to his pupils widening and shrinking slightly when he blinked.
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2. It's DreamWorks. What do you expect? Of particular note in the flying scenes where Hiccup and Toothless are flying about among the clouds and Valda slowly rises out of clouds, standing on the back of a dragon.
  • Upping the ante, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World soars to new heights with even better effects, enhanced lighting, and lifelike animation that push DreamWorks' Premo Animation System and Moonray Production Renderer to its greatest capacities, looking more like a Pixar film as a result. Of particular note is the incredibly detailed dragonscale armors the protagonists wear at times, and everything about the titular Hidden World, with lots of Avatar-esque lush scenery that understandably leave Astrid and Hiccup awe-struck once they arrive for the first time.
  • The Kung Fu Panda films not only have beautiful scenery, but stunning action scenes as well. Special mention goes to Tai Lung's escape from prison in the first film and the Zen Ball Master scene in the second.
  • The CGI animation in Megamind is generally solid, but when the top of the tower collapses, it's like a massive Art Bump.
  • The Prince of Egypt, while mostly using 2-D animation, has segments that used a bit of CGI. Thankfully, all of them are still stunning to look at. They include the following scenes: the burning bush, the plagues, the angel of death, and the crossing of the Red Sea.
  • Rise of the Guardians. All of it. Special mention, however, must go to the Sandman's giant dinosaurs in the climax.
    • There's a good reason why it won the Annie Award for Best Effects in an Animated Production.
  • Try watching Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in Blu-ray / Hi-Def. The scenes with The Roc are especially well done; and its movements are scarily birdlike.
    • Holy fucking shit ERIS ALONE. She is constantly shifting and morphing and moving and changing as if she's nothing but smoke. SOMETHING is always moving around chaotically on her body in her scenes- most often her hair with gorgeous fluidity. Sometimes she flat out changes shape complete with five million smoky effects. Major props to her animators because she looks gorgeous and fluid and just flat out amazing.
    • The awesome is enhanced by the fact that Sinbad was the first feature film of any kind made entirely in Linux. And in 2003, when Linux was severely lacking in the "filmmaking software" department.

  • The Boxtrolls. Gorgeously animated and detailed stop motion, with little CGI used in the film!
  • Coraline stretches the limits of what can be done with just stop-motion and a crapload of patience. Not counting mistakes, the average production speed is 3 seconds per day. The movie is 100 minutes long.
    • Coraline's sweater? Hand-knitted by a real, live human being.
    • The garden scene is CGI, right? WRONG. They made loads of flowers that lit up for the scene. A sequence that is impossibly beautiful, even by CGI standards, was made with A BOX OF SCRAPS!
    • The scenes where parts of the Other World disintegrated. Try telling yourself that they're from a stop-motion film.
    • As an example of Tropes Are Not Good, the sheer beauty of the animation made some people think that it's just a generic CGI animation.
  • The awe-inspiring visuals of Kubo and the Two Strings. Puppet-scale battles between tiny transforming origami warriors, flowing, individually-feathered capes on the evil Sisters, Kubo playing his shamisen furiously while a flock of thousands of origami cranes lift him into the air and form bird wings, a woman playing the shamisen in the rain, during a storm, on a tiny, pitching boat, on massive ocean waves, with long flowing, realistically-wet hair.
  • ParaNorman. The flying dirt clods when the Zombies rise from their graves involved actually rigging the dirt clods to "fly" up. And the climax with Norman confronting the witch
    • ParaNorman:
      • The swirling clouds that form the witch's face, especially in the scene when Norman tries to read the book to her, utilized thin delicate fabrics.
      • The pinnacle of spectacular visuals has to be the climax, in which Norman confronts Agatha's ghost, which is electrified and constantly shooting out bolts of lightning through the air and earth, with her face becoming horrifically distorted in her anger. As the scene continues, the backdrop changes from a forest to pieces of rock floating through the void. It was achieved through Medium Blending all three animation mediums of stop motion for the body with sculpted smear frames to achieve a face warping effect, with 2D and CG elements for effects such as lightning.

  • Brave is absolutely incredible, specially Merida's huge mane of curled ginger hair. There are over 100,000 hairs rendered on Merida's head.
  • There are points in watching Finding Nemo when you can't tell what's computer graphics and what's real ocean.
    • Here's a hint: it's all computer graphics.
    • Also traits of the ocean characters in the movie were based off actual marine biology. Seriously if you research the fish, you'll find that almost all of it is accurate, minus the extra intelligence and Carnivore Confusion, of course.
    • According to the Making Of documentary, as part of the research for this movie Andrew Stanton got some real underwater footage and challenged the animators to duplicate it. When the results were screened a few days later, Stanton couldn't tell which clips were original and which were animated.
      • Pixar works with a rendering algorithm called REYES, an acronym for "Renders Everything You Ever Saw".
  • The Good Dinosaur is noted for having extremely photo-realistic settings like mountains, rivers, and valleys. The film includes shots that are technically challenging, such as water dripping off of leaves and characters digging into the dirt.
  • Inside Out: The main characters have a kind of glittery "grainy" texture to their skins, which apparently was extremely difficult feat to pull off.
  • Monsters University: The little girl towards the end. Specifically, her hair. The way the moonlight blooms through it, illuminating each strand to create an almost photorealistic effect. Goodness.
  • Ratatouille should be on the list just because they actually managed to make food that did not fall in the uncanny valley using CGI. Fabric is actually really hard to animate well so it was actually very impressive that they were able to make it work well.
  • It's easy to take it for granted now, but Toy Story's CGI animation was absolutely groundbreaking for its time, to the point where it became an overnight game changer for the entire medium of animation—CGI up till then was still a technique in its infancy that had only shown glimmers of potential, and there just weren't CGI films as well animated, lit, or designed at the time, much less any that kept it up at feature length. The CGI was so advanced that it pushed the limits of what Pixar's then state of the art computers could do at the time—it took the whole array of Pixar's desktops and an insane amount of time to render even one of over 100,000 frames of the films animation. The sheen may have worn off due to just how far CG tech has come since, but its a technical milestone regardless. And from an entertainment standpoint, the appealing cartoon art has helped take the burden off the aging CGI. And even today, video game fans are still using the film as a template for what real time video game graphics should strive to achieve (although its safe to say that the Toy Story level in Kingdom Hearts III has caught up with and even surpassed the film in technical quality).
    • If you really want to appreciate how incredible Toy Story was for its time, look at any CGI that came before it. Animation principles like squash and stretch and overlapping action were a rarity in CGI animation prior to 1995.
    • Pixar's early shorts may look incredibly dated now, but CGI was at such an early stage, that any breakthrough was considered a huge step forward. For example, The Adventures of André & Wally B. was the first CGI film to use Squash and Stretch and Motion Blur—and it took a 13,000,000$ Cray X-MP supercomputer (which is a truly massive contraption roughly the size of several grown men lumped together) and 10 more superminicomputers to accomplish even that much in 1984. When Luxo Jr. premiered and demostrated natural, simple looking principles of movement, it got a standing ovation from the audience before the film even finished! And to say nothing of the naturalistic lighting their homegrown Renderman software provided for shorts like Tin Toy.
  • Toy Story 2 vastly improved upon the human renders from the first film. In the close up shot of Woody and Al, you could swear Al is a live actor because he just looks so real.
  • Toy Story 3: The incinerator scene has the best CGI fire ever. Well played, Pixar. Holy SHIT, but well played.
  • WALL•E: There are moments — fairly frequent moments — where you wonder how EVE actually works, because she and WALL•E are obviously real machines...
  • Turning Red: Mei's fur in red panda form is very detailed and fluffy. Some viewers have even said it almost seemed like they could actually reach out and touch it. The cityscape of Toronto is beautiful as well, and the bright pastel color palette is very pleasing. Domee Shi has referred to the palette as an "Asian Tween Fever Dream".


  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011): The absolutely gorgeous 2D opening sequence was incredible enough, but then you see the CGI, and it's so realistic that within a few minutes you forget you're watching a CGI, motion-captured film. Some of the effects used for different scenes were incredible, as well-in order to film a scene on a rocking boat, the actors were put on a swinging walkway. And Snowy the dog? No motion capture whatsoever. The animators thought that motion-capturing a dog wasn't realistic enough and just animated him by scratch. Special mention has to be given to the transitions between scenes, as well, especially the one between Tintin and Haddock being lost at sea to the Thom(p)sons walking down the sidewalk.
    • Two scenes that must be mentioned here: the insane Epic Tracking Shot Chase Scene through Bagghar, and the transition between flashback and present day while Captain Haddock is telling the story of the Unicorn while he and Tintin are in the desert. The way the Unicorn just crashes over the dunes and everything transforms into ocean has to be seen to be believed.
  • The Book of Life:
    • Most of the movie, but Xibalba alone is so incredible-looking and overflowing with detail that it's almost overwhelming. He's really a character that had to be computer-animated.
    • Seriously, there's so much detail from the scenery down to the character's costumes that it's impossible to see it all in one sitting...which was certainly Gutierrez's intention.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods take this up to 9000. The movie, visually, is flat out amazing from start to finish. The blend of CGI and top quality animation and art used throughout the movie makes everything look spectacular. Ironically, there's more detail placed in the background art and animation when fights occur. However, the standout scenes for where things get visually breathtaking is when Beerus takes on Goku on Earth and then in space. EVERYTHING. LOOKS. BEAUTIFUL.
  • FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Say what you will about the film itself, but the imagery and animation is a feast for the eyes. Special mention goes to all of the images of Hexxus, Batty's flight through the construction machine toward the climax and all those montages of forest magic. Too bad the sequel had to throw that out the window.
  • Every single scene from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It's debatable if the plot was good, but every single frame was a masterpiece of CG gorgeousness.
    • Especially when Advent Children Complete was released. Taking advantage of Blu Ray's high definition to touch up the effects such as adding dirt stains on faces/clothes etc. It looks stunning, even moreso than the regular edition.
  • The 2006 theatrical film adaptation of Curious George is arguably an underrated example. Everything in the film (the characters, objects, and environments, etc.) has an soft illuminated/shaded look, and the backgrounds are strikingly reminiscent of the watercolor illustrations from the original books; both of which bestow to the film a warm, radiant visual style. More impressively, though, is that the film accomplishes this primarily through traditional animation, despite being released in an era when traditionally-animated films had recently fallen out of style and CG animated films had supplanted them as the new standard. (The film does also incorporate a fair amount of CG elements, but they blend in with the artstyle and animation well enough that you hardly notice them in most cases.)
  • Harlock: Space Pirate. Many fans have watched trailers for the film and thought it was live-action.
  • You may be surprised to see Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV here, considering that the animation is so good, it's practically live-action. Follow that up with breathtaking battle scenes involving giant monsters, teleporting soldiers and massive statues and it would have landed here even if it wasn't almost live-action.
  • The LEGO Movie:
    • The Animal Logic team animated the movie deliberately in the style of old Stop Motion "brick films" that Lego fans would make themselves, and it looks very real. They animated so well, people thought it was stop motion when it was in fact, ALL CGI (not counting the bits in the real world). Even the invoked Special Effect Failure looks rather convincing - even doubles as Foreshadowing.
    • Behind the scenes footage shows they designed at least Good Cop/Bad Cop's transforming police car/hovercraft so that both really are built from the exact same parts — no cheating by having the pieces change during transformation.
  • The 2015 adaption of The Little Prince, good God. The 2D and stop-motion sections are gorgeously faithful to the original iconic illustrations, with their simple ink and watercolor look. It's hard not to try and touch the screen just to feel the paper textures.
  • Minions: The scene where Kevin grows into a giant and destroys the building he was in features amazingly detailed animation, and generally looks extremely impressive for such a light-hearted, absurd film. Doubles as a mythology gag for anyone who's played the Minions Rush mobile game.
  • 9: Just look at the detail on all those dolls. Their textures are so unique from each other to show their different materials, and it takes a lot of work to make goggle eyes expressive without Toon Physics. Of course, the Scenery Gorn and Schizo Tech deserve mention too.
  • The Greedy sequence in Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure.
  • Rango: Holy Fuck, Rango. By Industrial Light & Magic, this is one of the most detailed animated films ever. And it is beautiful.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut apes the Stylistic Suck look of the show for the most part, but the sequence where Kenny dies and goes to hell is incredibly well done, successfully blending Kenny's crude look with unsettling 3D graphics.
  • The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water:
    • The CG is very well-done in keeping the same kind of stylized cartoony look of the show.
    • For those that saw the movie in 3D, the time travel sequences look incredible. The traditional animation also looks pretty neat itself.
  • Strange Magic. Even though there's occasionally the Unintentional Uncanny Valley face, the faces are incredibly expressive. But where the movie shines are the absurdly detailed and beautiful backgrounds.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler certainly counts. The film was completely drawn at 24 FPS as opposed to 12 FPS for even the best animated films today. The film also includes unbelievably accurate 3D polygonal effects that were entirely drawn by hand. In fact, despite the film's visual complexity, no computers were ever used to produce the film - every minute was drawn on traditional cels. There's a good reason the film took over 20 years to complete.
  • The spectral rabbits in the Watership Down film. Holy crap. They seriously look like they were pencil-shaded, and that alone is awesome - pencil shading would take a very long time to animate effectively!