Animation: 3D/CGI

The Book Of Life
The Book Of Life

3D/CGI animation is essentially a digital successor to stop-motion techniques, using 3D models. The first completely computer animated film was created in 1995, and it has since been one of the biggest markets in the world, with studios such as Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks and Sony - plus independent production companies - creating some of the medium's most memorable films.

We also have film lists on hand-drawn animation, rotoscopingVFXstop-motioncut-out animation, and the history of animation.

Monsters, Inc.

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration88 mins

Monsters, Inc.(2001)

Enchanting, comic animation set in the city of Monstropolis, powered by the screams of children- who don't scare as easily as they used to.

CGI/3D animation was truly born with Pixar’s debut, Toy Story, the first fully computer-animated film. This was an industry gamechanger, as was the birth of Pixar, who would go on to create many notable works, including the colourful, incredibly detailed world of Monsters, Inc. (e.g. Sully’s fur) thanks to the new opportunities provided by computer-generated 3D animation.

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Antz

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration79 mins

Antz(1998)

CGI-animated adventure revolving around a neurotic ant named Z (voiced by Woody Allen) and his quest to find romance.

During this time of Pixar’s ascension, DreamWorks were arguably the young studio’s biggest rivals. They produced their own first feature animation in 1998 with Antz, which drew direct comparisons to Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. DreamWorks would go on to create many more memorable adventures with the likes of Chicken Run, Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon and Trolls.

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The Princess and the Frog

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration95 mins

The Princess and the Frog(2009)

Tiana is a feisty young woman with big dreams in Disney's New Orleans-set re-telling of the classic fairy tale.

Disney, meanwhile, was struggling badly around the turn of the 21st century. Their fortunes started to change with their acquisition of Pixar in 2006, leading John Lasseter and co to manage both studios. The Princess and the Frog kick-started Disney’s second renaissance, and was a pivotal moment in introducing diverse protagonists (followed up by Moana and Coco).

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The Book of Life

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration95 mins

The Book of Life(2014)

Imaginative musical animation that takes you on a fun adventure through Mexican folklore.

Like Disney’s Coco, the Guillermo Del Toro-produced The Book of Life – from Reel FX Animation Studios, who also made Rock Dog – is an adventure through Mexican folklore. The culture is lovingly explored with storytelling, family, history and legacy all prominent themes in this Day of the Dead tale, full of vibrant colours and imaginative worlds.

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Khumba

CertU

Age group7–11

Duration81 mins

Khumba(2013)

Entertaining South African animation about a half-striped zebra who learns that difference can be a strength.

Triggerfish Animation Studios, on the other hand, are a South African studio based in Cape Town. Alongside Khumba, they’ve also made Adventures in Zambezia. These are gentle, well-crafted animations full of exotic creatures in which the protagonists learn valuable lessons about themselves and those around them.

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Your Name

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration106 mins

Your Name(2016)

A stunning anime which sees a body-swap between two teenagers, city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha, in modern-day Japan.

Studio Ghibli is mostly known for hand-drawn animation (with some computer animation used), but this isn’t the case for all anime. Your Name, from CoMix Wave Films, became a sensation across the world, especially in its homeland Japan where it is the fourth biggest box-office hit of all time. The 3D/CGI animation is exquisite, featuring glorious time-lapse sequences.

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The LEGO Movie

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration100 mins

The LEGO Movie(2014)

An ordinary LEGO® minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the Master Builder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant.

Your Name shares catchy music and quick energy with The LEGO Movie, which became a huge hit, spawning various sequels and spin-offs as a result. Animal Logic’s animation uses LEGO blocks cleverly in the ways the characters move and the action unfolds, with a good number of jokes generated from its eccentric animated style.

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Minions

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration91 mins

Minions(2015)

The Minions get their own movie in this globetrotting prequel, centred around their quest for a new super-villain master.

Much like The LEGO Movie, Minions – a spin-off from the successful Despicable Me franchise – owes plenty to slapstick and silent classics. This film essentially contains no dialogue, with the humour arising from the loveable creatures and their cheeky, childlike behaviour. Illumination Entertainment have also found further recent success with The Secret Life of Pets and Sing.

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Ice Age

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration78 mins

Ice Age(2002)

Cheery animated film about a woolly mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger and young sloth who team up to migrate from the ice southwards.

Along with Despicable Me, this is an example of a particularly successful franchise which has made a connection with audiences. Blue Sky Studios are the production company behind this one, and they’ve since brought Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie to the big screen.

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Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration86 mins

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs(2009)

Flint Lockwood is an inventor who creates a machine that can turn water into food but something goes wrong and the machine ends up in the sky.

This film was also so well received that it gave rise to a sequel (and a children’s TV show), and propelled its co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller into the limelight, where they had further hits including 21 Jump Street and the aforementioned The LEGO Movie. Sony Pictures Animation made this one, also creating the much-liked Hotel Transylvania series.

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The Gruffalo

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration27 mins

The Gruffalo(2009)

Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, this is a slick and charismatic animation of a classic tale with a remarkable cast of voices.

Everything else in this list is feature length, but Magic Light Pictures are responsible for this equally adored short film, an adaptation of the children’s picture book, as well as the follow-up The Gruffalo’s Child. They’ve also produced festive hit Stick Man and, for older audiences, a story set in Cuba’s jazz scene, Chico and Rita.

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