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Following the release of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, director Joel Crawford addresses the state of CGI-animated movies and reveals that there's one film, in particular, that marked a major shift for the entire industry. Serving as a spinoff from the Shrek franchise, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was in development, in one form or another, since 2012. Puss, voiced by Antonio Banderas, was first introduced in Shrek 2 in 2004, a role that he would later reprise for Shrek the Third in 2007 and the first Puss in Boots in 2011. The latest installment sees Puss, now on the last of his nine lives, embark on an epic adventure in an attempt to fully restore them.

In a recent interview with SFX Magazine (via SlashFilm), Crawford talks about how Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was influenced by Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The director believes that the critically-acclaimed 2018 animated film ushered in big changes for the entire animation industry, demonstrating that audiences weren't only interested in life-like computer animation, which has allowed for more creativity to flourish. Check out Crawford's full comment on the state of the animation industry below:

"I think Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse opened up the mainstream animation industry to realize that audiences don't just want a CG movie that looks totally like CG. I remember on the first Shrek movie there was this quest for realism, and it was so impressive what computers could create it was like, 'Wow, you can see the hairs on their arms!'"
How Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Can Further Influence Future Animated Films

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After being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, a sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is finally set to be released this summer. The upcoming film is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson and looks, like the original, to be pushing its medium in exciting new directions. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse benefits from having a premise that allows it to blend and bounce between multiple art and animation styles as Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) hops between universes. While not all CGI-animated films will have a storyline that involves the multiverse, the film can still serve as a source of inspiration for future films.

Instead of using the tried and true animation pipeline to give CGI-animated films a realistic-style look, the medium can put control back into the hands of creative individuals who can determine the animation style for a given film based on the story being told. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opted to forgo traditional methods of using simulations when it comes to hair, wind, and clothing, instead relying on a talented team of artists to create a more bespoke effect. The production also opted to further break the mold by not animating Spider-Man and the other characters on ones, in every frame at 24 frames per second, but on twos, every other frame at 24 frames per second. This, and the decision to not use motion blur results in a film that is wholly visually unique, something that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is seemingly doing once more.

While not all animated films should just copy what Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse did, the success of the movie suggests that future films should be willing to break convention more often. There's nothing inherently wrong with life-like CGI animation, but there's definitely something to be said for the greater sense of artistic expression that comes across in animated movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Unfortunately, however, forgoing the animation pipelines that studios have spent decades building is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, so it remains to be seen how long it will take for major change to sweep the industry.