CGI (Computer generated/graphic imagery) has increasingly been a dominant source of technology used in cinema… and there’s no going back!
Although the application and contribution of computer graphics to film imagery isn’t a new idea, the rapidly evolving form of ground-breaking technology has amazed us with picture perfect possibilities in film, and animation, throughout the years.
Here is a time-line showing key uses of CGI in cinematic history:
- 1973: Sci-fi thriller Westworld (directed by Michael Crichton) was the first film to use 2-D image processing to portray the infrared point of view of the Gunslinger android.
- 1977: Star Wars uses 3-D wireframe graphics for the trench run briefing sequence.
- 1978: Superman: The Movie is the first film to use CGI in the film’s title sequence.
- 1981: Looker (also directed by Michael Crichton) introduces Cindy as the first CGI human character.
- 1985: Barry Levinson’s Young Sherlock Holmes introduces the first CGI photo-realistic character – the stained glass knight.
- 1991: Terminator 2 displays the first realistic movement on a CGI character by T-1000.
- 1993: Jurassic Park included the first photo-realistic CGI characters/creatures in film.
- 1995: Toy Story is the first feature-length CGI animated film.
- 1999: The famous ‘Bullet-Time’ shot is seen in The Matrix.
- 2001: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is the first realistic CGI feature-length film.
- 2002: The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring is the first film to use AI (Artificial Intelligence) for digital actors.
- 2004: The Polar Express was the first CGI animated feature-length film that used motion capture technology for all the actors.
- 2009: Monsters vs. Aliens was the first CGI film to be shot directly in stereoscopic 3-D, unlike previous films who were dimentionalised afterwards.
As Hollywood is often referred to as ‘The Dream Factory’, CGI has enabled film-makers to use imaginative artistic experimentation and project our dreams (and nightmares) onto the silver screen. Along with being exposed to an array of fantastical settings, we have also been introduced to many renowned CGI characters whom we have emotionally connected with. The pictorial achievement of surreal photographic realism, and audience interaction with live action, emphasises that literally anything (whether fictitious or historical) can be brought to life!
So who do you think is the most enduring CGI character of all time? As you have a little think, take a look at the 10 I have provided…
We are currently seeking Film contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a Film contributor, click here.