Rendering of Ed Catmull’s Hand from 1972
Robby Ingebretsen of NerdPlusArt has a great video of what may be the first ever 3D graphics, a manually-digitized rendering of Ed Catmull’s Hand done back in 1972.
The film fell into my hands because Ed and my dad were good friends and office mates at the University of Utah in the 1970s where they were both pursuing upper graduate degrees in computer science. My dad was focused on digital audio and Ed (of course) on computer graphics. Either because of their friendship or possibly because they were renting time on the same computer, my dad ended up being responsible for the 3D morphing titles at the beginning and end of the film (his credit is at 6:15). I guess that entitled him to a copy of the 8mm reel (it was rendered to actual film; this, of course, predated any kind of real time digital playback by many years).
Seeing the hand scanned really makes you glad for tools like 3dsMax.