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The Adventures of Andre and Wally B

Way back in the mists of time, there was 1984. In 1984, there was a passive CG short film, created by the Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project, which some years later became Pixar. It was one of the very first CG presentations ever made, and used a borrowed supercomputer - the Cray - to render.

It is exceedingly short at one minute forty-seven seconds, and other than the musical track, simple cartoon sound effects for a jab, plong and running, is silent. To say the CG animation is crude, is putting it mildly. Still, this project effectively sparked off the entire computer animation industry, so its presence cannot be overstated.

Two characters are present in the film; Andre and Wally. They are never named in the film, so it is guesswork as to which is which, but an educated guess is that 'Wally B' is the bee.

The scene opens on an idyllic forest, whose trees all grow in straight rows, only consisting of two types of model. Behind them, a skybox with no parallax mapping to speak of, slowly drifts down behind the utterly flat terrain. There is nothing in this short that cannot be rendered in real-time by a modern social VR platform, and to a significantly higher standard. That is worth noting, in the 25 year gap between then and now.

Andre wakes up in a clump of rocks. He yawns, stretches, and starts to quake. A gigantic bee is approaching. The bee flies up to his face and smiles evilly. It moves closer and uses one foot to plong andre's nose. Andre points at something behind the bee and uses the momentary distraction to run for it.

Angered, the bee gives chase, and soon overtakes Andre. It rears up and dives offscreen where the sound of it jabbing Andre can be heard. The bee soon flies back the way it came, smiling, and with a bent stinger.

Before it can fly completely off-screen, Andre's hat comes flying across and bonks the bee hard. The credits follow.

At the time, particle systems, and motion blur were revolutionary concepts, and this animation was the first to showcase such. In addition to the Cray's supercomputing power, ten Vax mainframes were also utilised, to handle the then-enormous processing overhead.

The film stands as a testament really, to just how far things have truly come in the decades since.


Andre & Wally B.

The Making of Andre and Wally B (PDF)

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