I’ve been seeing this debate play out on the internet as to whether the Lion King remake is animated, live action, or CGI. The good news is that a lot of you are partially right. The bad news is that you’re also partially wrong. BOTH versions of The Lion King are animated; the difference is in the techniques used to animate the two films.

The original Lion King we all know and love employs the timeless technique known as 2D hand drawn animation. Here, several artists meticulously hand draw each frame individually. Once drawn, all those frames are colored, thrown on a computer, and rendered in real time with post processing effects like color correction, etc. At some point, animators moved to doing the process entirely on a computer. The 2D stills are hand drawn, and rendered on the same workstation.

The new Lion King movie utilizes what we know today as CGI. CGI (Computer Generated Graphics) is a form of animation that utilizes objects in a 3D space. Objects such as humans, animals, etc are built, or sculpted utilizing polygons. The most notable early example of this is Toy Story. Objects are animated via the use of wire frames, or human/animal motion capture. Those animation skeletons are merged with the said 3D objects to give life to the various characters.

Now, you’re probably wondering why they look so real. Well, every 3D object is given what is called a texture using texture mapping, technique where a 3D object is translated into a 2D still with different angles for painting in a program like Photoshop. This texture is what gives a 3D mold its character. One example is if we sculpted a teacup, or built it from polygons. A texture map could be that reflective white shine/glare that make a glass cup believable. If we made a pair of pants, a texture may be drawn to imitate the stitching on a pair of pants.

Due to the ever increasing power of computers, texture mapping has come far enough where we can make those textures look so real that very few people can tell the difference between a real lion and a computer animated one. Now, many people bring up the 2016 Jungle Book as an example in this argument. The Jungle Book is a mix of the two. It is primarily a live action film that utilizes CGI for the animals, and post effects processing. The new Aladdin5 film will also be a live action film. Much like Beauty and the Beast, it uses real actors alongside CGI effects. Because of the merger of the two in prior remakes followed by the fact that people can’t differentiate real from CGI, widespread confusion has evolved into heated internet debates.

Though the techniques are different, these two movies are both animated films.

Yours Truly,
A holder of a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media


Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90s.