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What exactly is the animated movie aesthetic /3/?
According to their papers they keep their lighting as physically correct as they can, so it's nothing to do with lighting. The material work is also always pretty consistently realistic, so what seperates pic related, for instance, from photorealistic rendering? Is it simply the models used, or is there more to it than that?
once you go the talking animal route the brain can never accept it as real
its realistic texturing and cartoonish proportions

id say its damn hard to nail
sometimes things such as SSS/translucency, glow, are pushed extra (tangled, ratatouille). this is kinda old but worth a read https://renderman.pixar.com/view/pixar-ratatouille-shading-food

other than that it's mainly the design aesthetics
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Those guys are about right, it's stylised realism. It's actually what I do for a living. Shapes/proportions/shading and physical effects all deviate from pure realism to a desired taste, but the lighting/textures/comp and general cinematography are treated like a real movie would. Everything respects physically-based rendering (PBR) though and behaves according to real-life physics/optics/etc. OP's example is even more close to realism than Pixar, being made by ILM (special effects company)
Seems like a logical evolution. The realistic approach for VFX was always there as was the cartoony stylised animation look.

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