Pioneering work by Disney and Warner Bros. between the 1920s and 1940s established the techniques of cartoon animation, with artists painstakingly drawing or painting every frame to be made into short loops or entire feature films.
But artists (along with software engineers) later realized computers could do the same thing, taking character rigs and programming simple instructions about movement, camera angles, and light levels—a practice spearheaded by Pixar.
Today, almost every major 3D animation project contains CGI elements and post-production. Animation software—including Maya, 3ds Max, and MotionBuilder from Autodesk—can automate the simulation of complicated elements such as ocean waves or hair.
When the environment of a scene is built in the software, you can place your virtual camera anywhere inside it. Shifts in this perspective can completely change the emotional context of a scene. And advanced pipeline management can help make production management, asset, and milestone tracking seamless.