CGI Graphics: Redefining a Picture-Perfect World in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

CGI Graphics: Redefining a Picture-Perfect World in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

CGI Graphics in Movies

CGI Graphics: Redefining a Picture-Perfect World in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy
Computer graphics used in films and video games gradually began to be realistic to the point of entering the uncanny valley. Examples include the later Final Fantasy games and animated films like The Polar Express. 3D visual effects in the movies have come on leaps and bounds since their introduction in the 1980s. The art of creating realistic looking environments, monsters, creatures and buildings continues to impress, with many movies now relying on the creative talent at special effects companies like Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Weta to enhance movies with stunning CGI. Pearl Harbour is a 2001 American epic war film directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and written by Randall Wallace. It features a large ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Sizemore,Jon Voight, Colm Feore and Alec Baldwin. With a laboured script, leaden acting, turgid pace, and insensitive factual inaccuracies... the only reason Pearl Harbour is worth seeing is for the recreation of the infamous 1941 attack. Unbelievably, there are only four shots that are totally CG in the movie, including the two shots of the USS Arizona exploding, with the wide camera angle taking four months of constant effects work to perfect.
ILM used a combination of software for the attack sequence, including AliasStudio, Maya, and Softimage for basic modelling, and employed its proprietary software, Zeno, for the many rigid body simulations. To comply with environmental rules, VFX supervisor Eric Brevig also had to write a new piece of software to create the amount of smoke plumes needed. So while it’s a dreadful film, we can’t help but applaud the truly brilliant CG effects. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Academy Award-winning motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas. It is a division of the film production company, Lucasfilm, which Lucas founded, and was created when Lucas began production of the film Star Wars. Lucas wanted his 1977 film Star Wars to include visual effects that had never been seen on film before. ILM also collaborates with Steven Spielberg on most films that he directs, and for many that he produces as well. Dennis Muren has acted as Visual Effects Supervisor on many of his films. Despite its roots, Computer Generated Imagery still struggles to walk the line between necessity and novelty, with many film makers simply jumping on the band wagon for the sake of profit. It has not always been this way however, CGI was used for the first time a full 36 years ago when George Lucas and Mark Hamil made the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope. Digital film maker Larry Cuba, who was the maker of the Star Wars CGI scene, can be found online, used wire-frame graphics to track the outline of objects in the Death Star trench briefing scene. Of course this was not the first time computer imagery had ever been experimented with, but it is by far the most notable use of it in popular cinema.
Following the successful use of CGI in Star Wars, Lucas’s production company Industrial Light and Magic completed their first fully CG scene in the first of two Star Trek movies to be mentioned here, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. A sequence that used motion blurs and hand painted landscapes, and took several days to fully render. That same year Disney’s movie Tron, which was supposedly inspired by the obsession of director Steven Lixberger following an encounter with the retro video game “Pong”. The film was the first to use CGI to any large degree, devoting (all in all) about twenty minutes of runtime to the computer generated world, comprised entirely of computer generated 3D graphics.

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