Computer graphics and animation have evolved so much in the past 20 years. Back then I was using SoftImage to create simulations of chemical bonding and that sort of thing. The basic concepts have not changed at all but the hardware is so much more powerful that kids can now use their laptops to create scenes that are as good as the original Jurassic Park. The software is more accessible as well, with free, open source software such as Blender now available.
In the animation community, the focus seems to be on improved textures and lighting, which help a lot to create imagery that is indistinguishable from reality, but I consider that icing on the cake. Even mediocre 3d animation today is pretty good.