Computer generated imagery History

June 20, 2015
Book Review - The CG Story:
Film Milestones in Visual and Special Effects Film Title/Year and Description of Visual-Special Effects Screenshots

Rock & Rule (1983)

This feature-length cel-animated film about mutated humanoids - a post-apocalyptic, off-beat, adult-oriented rock & roll fantasy from Canada, was the first animated film to use computer graphics, although it was only used in a limited way for a few of the film's images.

The entire animated "Video Game" sequence in this third film in the series enacted a battle between villainous Ross Webster's (Robert Vaughn) "ultimate" supercomputer and superhero Superman (Christopher Reeve), as he flew into a Grand Canyon gorge where the huge supercomputer was located inside a cave.

Webster controlled a 'Space Invaders' style rocket-missile defense system, manipulating joysticks and watching the results on his video screen as numerous missiles were aimed at Superman. The Atari-type game screen displayed the "Score" and the number of rockets remaining.

The sequence was created, one frame at a time, by video game company Atari, Inc. in cooperation with Warner Brothers. It took 3 1/2 months and cost $125, 000 dollars to create. They had planned to base a video game on the sequence, but it never happened.

[Note: They also created the graphics for the "Starfighter" arcade game for The Last Starfighter (1984), but an intended arcade game was never released.]


Zelig (1983)

Woody Allen's film demonstrated the technical accomplishment of laboriously matching and interweaving authentic and older period film (newsreels and documentary footage) from the 1920s and 30s with newer, flickering B/W film shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Gordon Willis, to make the film appear authentically 'historic'.

Chameleon-like Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen) appeared alongside President Coolidge and presidential candidate Herbert Hoover, boxer Jack Dempsey, baseball player Babe Ruth, tycoon publisher William Randolph Hearst, movie star Charles Chaplin, the Pope, the Fuhrer himself, and the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.

[These same effects would be replicated 10 years later in Forrest Gump (1994).]

The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984)

Ex-Disney John Lasseter directed this all CGI-animated short, from Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project (later Pixar).

This was the first CGI animation with motion blur effects (using the principles of 'squash and stretch' from traditional animation to produce more fluid and realistic movement in characters).

The Last Starfighter (1984)

This was a groundbreaking film - it was the first film to feature the extensive use of CGI - most importantly, the integrated use of photo-realistic, computer-generated (CGI) models for all Gunstar vehicles or spaceships, or planet shots, rather than more traditional miniature models (as in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or ).

This was called digital scene simulation or 'integrated CGI' - the special effects were actually representing real-world objects, and the CG was fully integrated with the...

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