His first film was created using cel animation, "Tusalava" which was self funded and did not gain as much popularity as hoped however the animation was set in a monotone wash and had an organic feel to it through the shapes, variation of thickness in line and slow movement of the animation; originally it was accompanied with live music at the screening in 1929, however the original score was lost. The film held a surrealist atmosphere to the animation details, which later Lye joined a art group with other surrealist/abstract artists, including Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Baraba Hepworth.
One of his well known animations "A Colour Box" was commissioned by the General Post Office Film unit in 1936, that wanted to advertise to the public how affordable, reliable and fast service which they offer. It was the first direct film to be shown to the public in a cinema and is regarded as a pioneering piece through popularity in abstract film. The film was also voted as one of the top 10 most significant animation films of all time at the 2005 Annecy Film Festival.
The animation shows vivid and desaturated colours move and collide with lines and shapes portrayed in both hues and whiteout, as if drawn with his finger as the lines curve and contour into the next part of the sequence.
It is interesting to see the animation promote the postal company without the use of objects, character or landscape but a beautiful abstract depiction of which.
Lye has influenced many animators such as Norman McLaren, who decided to become an animator after being so inspired with Lyes work.
source: The World History of Animation by Stephen Cavalier