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Today’s 3D animated movies are fun and entertaining due to their characters and stories. The worlds in these movies are designed with care, the characters are enjoyable and the stories are not too complex. It is interesting to know that the 3D animation of today came from the abstract 3D animations of the 1980s. Many early animations were experimental and abstract, testing the limits of computer technology, but it didn’t mean they were not enjoyable to watch. An animation can take on very abstract forms and still be entertaining. Abstract designs, characters, and stories, if implemented properly, are just as fun and entertaining as their detailed, two hour counterparts.

A good example of this kind of animation is Quest (1986) (1):


To start, the world of Quest was designed with basic 3D geometric shapes. They mostly consisted of spheres, cubes, cylinders, cones. The geometric shapes are simple by themselves, but when put together, they seem to form concrete, yet abstract, structures. There are also various moving pillars and fountains. Pretty much everything moves in the World of Quest, making it look very alive and not static.

Another feature that added to the abstractness of Quest was the various reflective surfaces. Reflections can be seen almost everywhere, like in the water and on the surfaces of some structure. The reflections on the bouncing spheres are particularly interesting as they show the world upside down. The reflections don’t just act like a mirror to the world, but also create an illusion as to how big the world is.

The protagonist itself has an abstract appeal. It consists of four ellipses and has the ability to change into different positions. It (or he… or she) doesn’t look like much, but proves to be very versatile in this abstract world. The protagonist has the ability to swim like a shark, hover like a helicopter, and travel like a bicycle.

Though the story of Quest is probably the most concrete thing in the animation, the ending is quite abstract. The purpose of the protagonist is to search for and acquire a cube, sphere and prism, and then transform into this colorful super-being. It is not made clear in the ending as to what the colorful super-being is and what it is suppose to do. Though I believe the ending is left for the audience to interpret, it is neat to see the colorful super-being turn into the logo of Apollo, the company who created the animation.

Even though the design, the character, and the story’s ending are quite abstract, Quest is still very entertaining to watch and shows how much quality and care was put into it, just like the 3D animated films of today.


(1) VintageCG.  Quest (1985). Online Video. 3 mins 23 secs. 16 Aug 2009.

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