Okay, so maybe this is a little late in the year to be telling you about the best "upcoming" animated films of 2013, but I only just found this clip, and since I haven't heard anything about half the pictures profiled, it can at least serve as a guide to what to rent on DVD.
CGI animation continues to improve in its realism and its storytelling ability. The use of motion-capture makes it possible to have cartoon characters that move and emote exactly like living actors. The "uncanny valley" has been left in the dust as animators learn to create imagery that doesn't justreplicate reality, it enhances it and soars off into the realms of pure imagination.
And if you know anything about how CGI is created, some of the most simple-looking bits will take your breath away, because every single frame, every element, every movement, every background, prop, and shadow, needs to be painstakingly created and made to interact with everything else around it. So, for an animation afficiando such as myself, a shadow moving across a bank of blowing grass, or a finger drawing in the sand, can be far more impressive than a roaring rocketship or a magnificent palace, because of the amount of realism imbued in the most simple of gestures.
CGI is, of course, everywhere these days, from TV commercials to video games to online avatars. I have several friends who dabble in CGI, on varying levels of expertise, so I regularly get treated to the nuts-and-bolts discussions of morphs and polygons and the virtues of one rendering program over another.
But their work is all purely amateur. It's true that mighty oaks all start as little acorns, but the orders of magnitude of difference between amateur CGI, and the stuff in these professional releases, is just staggering.
Even the visual difference from films of only a few years ago, is quite noticeable.
I'm still hoping, however, that somebody will actually go and get film of a heron in flight so they can FINALLY get the flap of dragons' wings correctly animated.