Computer graphics (or CG) has changed the way we experience the art of moving images. Computer graphics is the difference between Steamboat Willie and Buzz Lightyear, between ping pong and PONG. It began in 1963 when an MIT graduate student named Ivan Sutherland created the first true computer animation program. Instead of presenting a series of numbers, Sutherland’s Sketchpad program drew lines that created recognizable images. Sutherland noted: “Since motion can be put into Sketchpad drawings, it might be exciting to try making cartoons.” This book, the first full-length history of CG, shows us how Sutherland’s seemingly offhand idea grew into a multibillion dollar industry.
In Moving Innovation, Tom Sito—himself an animator and industry insider for more than thirty years—describes the evolution of CG. The history of traditional cinema technology is a fairly straight path from Lumière to MGM. Writing the history of CG, Sito maps simultaneous accomplishments in multiple locales—academia, the military-industrial complex, movie special effects, video games, experimental film, corporate research, and commercial animation. His story features a memorable cast of characters—math nerds, avant-garde artists, cold warriors, hippies, video game enthusiasts, and studio executives: disparate types united by a common vision. Computer animation did not begin just with Pixar; Sito shows us how fifty years of work by this motley crew made movies like Toy Story and Avatar possible.
About the Author
Tom Sito has been a professional animator since 1975. One of the key players in Disney’s animation revival of the 1980s and 1990s, he worked on such classic Disney films as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and The Lion King (1994). He left Disney to help set up the Dreamworks Animation Unit in 1995. He is Professor of Cinema Practice in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
“It isn’t often that I read a text book that is a real page turner, but Tom Sito’s new book Moving Innovation, A History of Computer Animation is definitely a must-read.”—Nancy Denney-Phelps, Sprockets
“Tom Sito’s new book is the definitive take on computer animation history and CG’s rapid rise.”—Fred Patten, Animation World Network
“There are a lot of books about computer graphics, but some demand more attention than others. One of those is a book by Tom Sito called Moving Innovation.”—Computer Graphics World
“The book is very pleasant to read, beautifully written, punctuated with savory stories, and illustrated with a remarkable collection of archive images. I can recommend this as a first-class piece of literature for computer or cinema enthusiasts, as well as for anyone who loves reading a good story.”—Svetlana Segarceanu, Computing Reviews
“I can’t think of a better guide to the vast history of computer animation than Tom Sito. He witnessed much of this story first-hand, then set about researching the rest with clear-eyed interest and unbridled curiosity. He has done a great service for anyone interested in this still-evolving medium—and for posterity.”
—Leonard Maltin, film historian, author of Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons
“Moving Innovation is the most complete, organized, and readable account of the formation of the CG industry I have seen. As an educator, I can easily see this text assigned as required reading for animation and film students. Tom Sito’s writing is very conversational and straightforward, and this book will be of great interest to anyone in or studying the field of CG.”
—Peter Weishar, Dean of Entertainment Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design
“Moving Innovation helps us to discover the history of computer animation, from pioneers of experimental animation to inventors, artists, animators, engineers, and technicians who revolutionized the cinema. With his passion, enthusiasm, and encyclopedic knowledge, Tom Sito makes this exciting journey essential to our understanding of this technical and artistic revolution.”
—Pierre Lambert, historian of animation
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2013
Selected as a Best of 2013 by Computing Reviews