Brief History of Technology and CGI In Movies And Animation

The use of CGI dates back to the 1960s. The film that pioneered Computer graphics imagery and the use of 2d animation was director Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The movie was released in 1958.

Since then we’ve seen some remarkable progress with movie makers leveling up their games in 3D animation and CGI. A Computer Animated Hand came in 1972. 

Made by Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke it was the first-ever short film to introduce 3D computer graphics to the audience. The movie used 3d rendering to digitize a human hand using 350 triangles and polygons. 

Then we saw even more progress with the induction of wireframing models. Alien, Star Wars, and the Black Hole are some fine examples. The 70s was the decade when movie makers kept pushing the boundaries of CGI and 3D in filmmaking. 

We were blessed with fine advancements in films like Tron, The Abyss, Sherlock Holmes, The Last Starfighter, and others. The end of the decade saw the growth of 3D animation studios.

Then, we had some even more remarkable progress made by movie makers in CGI. They made use of most of the available technology. And, we were treated to the cinema experience of Toy Story, Jurassic Park, Judgement Day, and the Matrix. 

This blog is specially dedicated to the history of CGI technology and how it became a groundbreaking one for animations and movies in the current era. We’ll also discuss some of the finest works of CGI and your favorite movies nailed the trick. 

So, stay tuned. 

CGI used in Movies

Interstellar

The movie that tops our list is Interstellar. The movie is the epitome of space travel exploration in cinema. The fine VFX work involves the use of slit-scan photography. 

The artwork is strikingly similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The CGI works include a massive black hole and the tesseract, where Cooper, the protagonist of the film, discovers interlinked timelines. 

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is one of the finest and probably the pioneers of CGI in filmmaking. 

Filmmaker, Steven Spielberg not only introduced a major franchise for motion pictures, but he also introduced cinema lovers to the experience of realistic computer-generated images. 

The VFX crew working on the project brought us some real-to-life dinosaur shots with realistic movements and the mesmerizing texture of the skin. All that with the use of CGI. 

Avatar

One of the best, probably the best CGI work of this era, is Avatar. Part 2 has been out recently. 

Fans have gone crazy since the movie is a visual treat. With three more sequels to follow suit, James Cameron is only going to level up the cinema experience for his viewers. The 3D animation cost per minute is probably the most expensive for Avatar films.

The movie is not a semi-CGI work. It has an entire universe made with Computer graphics and real-to-life animations. 

The tech used for animations and CGI is the best. The visuals are true-to-life with dreamy colors and exquisite detailing of the landscape, characters’ features, and their chemistry. 

Terminator 2

Terminator 2 is another fine work of CGI. The T-1000 was mightier and scarier than the original terminator. 

To give the viewers such a visual treat, James Cameroon had to rely completely on CGI. He wanted to create a villain with metal liquids and fascinating abilities. 

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 is the first 3D movie produced by Pixar Studios. Today, computer-animated characters have become a routine thing for filmmakers of animated films and shows. 

Pixar though introduced the concept, has carried on and lead the industry. It won’t be wrong to say that the studio’s works are constantly evolving. 

Titanic

Again, the blockbuster Titanic is a fine work of CGI, considering that it was released in the late 90s. The ship was gigantic and recreating something that monstrous for a life-action model meant a massive budget. 

So, the film blended the footage of actors working in front of digital backgrounds. It is probably because the CGI work was quite convincing for the audience. 

The Irishman

The Irishman does not have any fictional action sequences. But, the movie adapted CGI technology to great use. 

Martin Scorsese’s Irishman, casts, Robert Di Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. The actors are well in their 70s. So, the director had to do pull off a miraculous job to make them look younger. 

The film uses de-aging technology in the best possible way. Viewers should know that the movie is not an exception, but it is probably the best as it made the actors look younger naturally. 

Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a classic epitome of CGI with 3D motion capture. Character Gollum stands out as a pioneer work in 3d motion capture. 

Artist, Andy Serkis was recorded thrice in a white suit. And, the VFX recorded his voiceovers separately off-camera. They aimed to achieve replication of his facial expressions with a CGI 3D character. 

The Matrix

There has never been a film that got an entire CGI technique named after it. Only a few movies can do that. The movie, Matrix used the bullet time technique to its advantage. 

The bullet time involves a slowdown of time, while the camera continues to shoot at the usual pace. The Matrix, in our opinion, is the one movie that raised the bar for live-action films, especially when it was about using CGI. 

Transformers

Michael Bay’s Transformers is another CGI mega-success. 

Though the movie might not be lauded for having an outstanding plot, it clearly has the best CGI works. The transformers are that one film that gave us a glimpse of the potential of CGI technology. 

Moreover, the CGI used in the movie required individual frames that took 38 hours to render. The models used involved ten thousand individual parts. 

Though the film shows far-reaching CGI, it was only a cornerstone in the evolution of CGI in films and animations. More importantly, the character shown in the film were ecstatic.

Bottom Line

Let’s wrap it up. Computer graphics imagery or CGI is the generic term for 3D computer graphics we experience in films, shows, and games. The tech has only got better and better in the past decade. 

And, it is no doubt that filmmakers have transformed not only the cinema experience but also the digital experience of their audiences. 

People continue to expect better and better. Perhaps, that’s why we’ll continue to see even better films in the future.

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