I think 2-3 years is overstated. Sure if you don’t have it planned out and are just making it up as you go that will easily turn into years, but if you’ve got concepts, storyboards/script and whatnot ready it’s just a matter of modeling, texturing, lighting, animating, and rendering the shots you already have planned.
Now it was mostly close up shots of highly textured and complexly lit objects so if you really want that quality exactly most of your time would be spent modeling/texturing and then rendering would probably require an external farm. But for a one person short it’s highly acceptable and very easy to get NEAR the same quality with much less need to worry about those drawbacks if you use workarounds and shortcuts and plan the animation intelligently knowing ahead of time that everything on camera is going to take weeks and months of work so if it doesn’t show up on camera don’t model it.
I’d recommend going for a stylized look. This style isn’t even photo-real but it looks like it’s along those lines and even for major VFX companies they don’t always pull it off well wheras if you set out to do something in a more stylized fashion to begin with it’s much easier to do right and then focus more on what’s really important i.e. animation/storytelling (presumably)
There’s a lot of options available for making something that looks really good that can be done in a reasonable amount of time. I like to use Raytracing light a lot for example myself, but I don’t necessarily need AO, or Global Illumination, or volumetric light or anything else fancy to generally meet my standards… You should focus more on trying to create a good story/animation because if you try to just make a computer graphics effects demo it’ll take you years just to match the quality of Pixar, ILM, or Blizzard and by then they’ll have raised the bar anyway. That’s my advice.
Most people in and around the CG community anyway having seen what artists of varying levels can and cannot do after a few years or so realize that an interesting story beats groundbreaking effects about 9 out of 10 times.