Dear 100 Hour Board,
I was flipping through the channels this morning and came across Jane and the Dragon on NBC. It is clearly CGI, but looks just like the animation out of RPGs like Final Fantasy. I don't think it's just the medieval setting- it's in the way they're animated. Seriously, I feel like I'm watching Final Fantasy here. What's the difference in the way RPGs like that (and apparently Jane and the Dragon) and more mainstream CGI (like Pixar) are animated?
It's lots of things; basically, it's how much work and skill was put into it. There's no way to get the quality of a Pixar film in a TV show because that attention to detail is very expensive. I can point out a few of the differences you're noticing: set and character design, texturing, lighting, simplistic modeling, character rigging (basically how dexterous the character is, and how the muscles bulge and move based on joint movements). From what I saw, the biggest problem was lighting; it's all ambient lighting and so everything is flat-looking and pretty much the same brightness.
There are even points in which the characters don't properly cast shadows. Another problem is that the entire show is rendered in deep focus—the far-away background is just as clear as the foreground.
All of these things are probably due to budgetary constraints, and the fact that kids don't really care.
Waldorf and Sauron