The cinematographer discusses her approach to lighting and the evolution of computer-generated cinematography.

About the Discussion

In 1994, Pixar Animation Studios set out to make the first-ever entirely computer-animated feature film: Toy Story. The picture — which follows anthropomorphic toys who come to life when humans aren’t present — was a critical and commercial success, and received commendations for the technical innovation of the computer animation, including a Special Achievement Academy Award. 

The lighting was directed by Sharon Calahan, ASC, who was credited as the lighting supervisor. Though the picture followed traditional cel animation production processes, the team soon realized that the process and creative approach more closely related to the production of live-action feature filmmaking. As such, Calahan was credited as the director of photography on Pixar’s next feature, A Bug’s Life.