Animation Research Limited began in 1989 as a joint venture between Taylormade Productions, a Dunedin based television production company, and the Computer Science Division of the University of Otago. The joint venture set out to explore the commercial possibilities which might exist in harnessing a 3D ray-tracing renderer which had been developed by Dr Geoff Wyvill, Head of the Division's graphics department. Its first 3D production was a title sequence for a Television New Zealand series, “University Challenge.” This production became the first of many for TVNZ.
In 1991 Taylormade Productions acquired all the University’s shares and restructured ARL into an entity in its own right. At about this time ARL produced its first television commercial. A full 3D animated TVC for United Airlines that went on to win awards both in New Zealand and overseas. It was also at this time that ARL, working with Television New Zealand, developed “Winged Keel” - the world’s first live 3D animated graphics for sports coverage, which was the America’s Cup Challenge in San Diego.
There have been many milestones for ARL in the intervening years. The award winning Air New Zealand commercial, the internationally acclaimed “Skiing Penguin”, the world’s first animated coverage of a Round the World Yacht Race (The Whitbread), the world’s first live to air GPS ball positioning for golf (Golftrac) together with computer generated flyovers. These days, four of the original five members from that 1989 joint venture - Stu Smith, Paul Sharp, Dr Geoff Wyvill and Ian Taylor, remain as shareholders in the company. All but Dr Wyvill work at ARL.