How they did that: Final Fantasy
The Ars crew has an interview up with a couple of the guys who worked on the Final Fantasy movie, on both artistic and technical sides of the project. Not only do they delve into some of the technical graphics stuff, which everyone notices, but they also discuss the management side of things, which is equally impressive. This is the one stat that made my mouth drop:
Using the raw data (not the averages) it all adds up to 934,162 days of render time on one processor. Keep in mind that we had a render farm with approximately 1,200 procs.
Even with a render farm, that's crazy. Any bets on when studios will start offering their own distributed computing clones on the net to help them with render times? It might not be as noble as devoting your processing power to folding proteins, but people just might go for it.