The First Fully CG character – Young Sherlock Holmes and a knightly stained glass window
Computer generated characters have now become as ubiquitous as calamity in an Irwin Allen production. Gollum, Hulk, Jar Jar Binks, Caesar – they’ve all been there without really being there. Photo-realism had always seemed to be the unattainable goal – hair, pores, realistic physical movements – and the development of performance capture (see below) certainly helped with many of those dilemmas. But Young Sherlock Holmes managed to get there first, simply by choosing a character where those technical challenges would not be so difficult to overcome (or rather wouldn’t be so noticeable if not overcome), namely a stained-glass window come to life.
With its polygons, hard angles, stilted movement and lack of pesky rendering challenges (none of Prince Charming’s flowing locks or Shrek’s facial pores), this knight became far less of a challenge than it might otherwise have been. Interestingly, ILM handled the CG work, with none other than John Lasseter heading up the team. Several years before ILM would wow the world with The Abyss’s liquid tentacle and then T2’s dextrous T1000 and a decade before Lasseter would give us feature-length CG animation, they combined forces on this still surprisingly effective piece of CG characterisation.