Which Film First Featured A Completely Computer-Generated Character?
Answer: Young Sherlock Holmes
Prior to the release of Young Sherlock Holmes in 1985 there were many notable firsts in the realm of computer graphics and movie making, but none of them involved a completely computer-generated character.
Star Wars (1977) was the first film to use 3D wire-frame graphics when the Jedi fighters were briefed on the trench run attack. Superman (1978) was the first movie to sport a computer-generated title sequence. Alien (1979) used raster wire-frame models on the navigation monitors in the landing sequence. Looker, a 1981 film based on a Michael Crichton novel, came closer to a fully CGI character with a computer-rendered human model based on actress Susan Dey.
It wasn’t until Young Sherlock Holmes, however, that we find a completely computer-generated movie character. The character, known informally as “The Stained Glass Knight”, is a photo-realistic rendering of a stained glass apparition. In his scene the knight leaps off a stained glass window pane to terrorize a priest and drive him from the church (and to his death beneath the wheels of a passing carriage). The scene lasts less than 30 seconds but took a full six months to render.