As time progresses we can start feeling nostalgic about different and more recent things. One thing I have been increasingly nostalgic about in recent years is the early days of the internet. Remember all those early GIFs that were on the early websites? Flames and under construction animations etc. The main ones that I remember being super cool back in the day were rotating GIFs of Star Wars vehicles and Boba Fett’s helmet etc. Spinning 3D GIFs were so impressive. I’d love to find an archive of them somewhere. It’s funny how GIFs have had a very cyclical fashion. In the late 90s they were amazingly cool and advanced, then they became very cheesy and ridiculed as web design advanced, but now, thanks to Twitter mostly, they are huge again.

But another thing from the early internet that makes me feel nostalgic is early viral video clips. There have been some huge ones over the years. Remember the keyboard guy who smashed up his computer? Apparently it was staged, but fair play to the guys, as it certainly went viral.

I also remember the first big video clip that I forwarded on in a frenzy of sharing. It was the trailer for The Phantom Menace, which must have dropped in late 1998.  I remember sending it on to my friend who at that time was a senior IT manager at a massive global company. I naively attached the MPG file to my email. In my head it was 100MB but who knows it actually might have been 10MB! But it was still huge for an attachment in 1998 and it crashed their server. He wasn’t best pleased to say the least! Awesome trailer though.

But around the same time there were several CGI videos that were doing the rounds and it’s these that I would like to focus on. I’ve always had a deep love of visual effects and computer animation. I remember my mum once recorded an art show that was on late one night that showed some of the latest video animations from the Siggraph animation festival. That particular year contained some very cool, and very basic, facial animation, but also the stand out animation was a certain little lamp called Luxo Jr. Little did I know that the makers behind that lamp animation, Pixar, would go on to be who they became. 

Luxo Jr
Still unbelievable for 1986. A masterclass in animation.

Every time I see that opening Pixar logo animation I think back to that early Siggraph video recording that I watched when I was about 10 or 11. I was lucky enough to later attend Siggraph in person on a university field trip.
So I’ve always gotten very excited when a new CG animation video comes out and does the rounds. Often it showcases an evolution in the technology or sometimes it’s just a cool idea. But these ones below really stick out for me from the late 90s or early 2000s.

Karl Sims Evolved Virtual Creatures – 1994
This is a different sort of video from the others but it was still hugely influential to me. I think I first saw it in a university lecture and the lecturer quickly moved on from it but I was in absolute awe. Karl Sim had programmed virtual creatures on the computer with certain characteristics and then let them battle and race each other and determine winners that then evolve. And all of this is animated in charming 3D. I just find it fascinating to watch, when you know what is going in the background. It’s a video that has stuck with me for the rest of my life. You can read more on Karl Sims’ website –

Tiger Jackson – Tekken 3 – 1997
This is a video from the PlayStation game Tekken 3, one of my all time favourite games and probably in the top 3 of games that I have sunk most time into. And a lot of that time would have been just watching and rewatching this Tiger Jackson cut scene. It’s so, so well made. A great early use of good quality motion capture too.

Bruce Lee – 1998
Again this one absolutely wowed me back in 1998. I believe that is the year it came out. At the time it looked absolutely incredible and some people honestly thought it was real video. Funny to think that now, watching it back. But still, it’s very well done for it’s time. Here’s a quick interview (in Chinese I think) with the animator 

I Will Survive – Alien Song – 1999
I totally remember the first time I watched this one and how my jaw hit the floor. The timings of everything are all great. This really was one that went viral around email as an MPG attachment as I remember.