Computer Generated Imagery

10 October 2016

Television Movies were entirely revolutionized in the 1990s after the release of Toy Story (1995), the first feature length animation made entirely from CGI (computer-generated imagery) to be released. When it came to the drawing boards, productions companies changed the ways they had traditionally made animated movies. Movies made with CGI became easier to produce, more eye appealing, and realistic. The production of movies was entirely renovated.

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In the world of animation, CGI made the creating and editing of animated movies possible to change a scene in a month rather then a year. Movies have stuck to CGI majority of the time making it the new standard for most viewers, the new type competition between production companies, and the new requirement on resumes for hopeful animators. CGI gave the production of science-fiction movies the possibility to have a realistic feel. The significant differences between CGI and classical hand-drawn animations are not only the obvious; one being done by computer and one is on paper.

The biggest difference is time efficiency and believability. A computer-generated image can be done one of two ways: a picture that is hand-drawn and then scanned into a computer or an entirely computer produced image, with a software specially designed for computer made imagery (Abbott, Pg. 91). After this step computer animators can move images around in one thousandth of the time it would take to move a hand-drawn image. Hypothetically meaning that if a hand-drawn scene took you twenty-four hours to move images around, with a CGI it would take twenty-four seconds. That changes the entire playing field when it comes to filmmaking.

The ability to go in and out of scenes and move the image or objects not wanted, without distorting the background or surrounding images, is a step that has made CGI animator friendly. The images and scenes that have been created are easily adjusted to perfection. For example in the television series The Silver Surfer which was a blending of cel and computer-generated imagery, it was possible to move him from one side of the screen to the other without distorting the rest of the image (in scenes that were completely CGI). CGI made thousands of jobs for editors and created a new field of expertise in film.

With todays technology in special effects designers have walked a fine line between artist and technician. The increasing use of computer technology for special effects has made them seem more like modern day computer scientists rather then their predecessors. “Not only does the hardware and software require the highest level of computer expertise to operate, but the technicians must research, develop, and experiment with the technology in order to acquire its desired effects. ” (Abbott, pg. 91) An animator today has to know not only how to draw and be creative, but also have to know how to do all of this on a computer.

Therefore CGI has changed not only the production, but also the hiring and background education needed to become an animator. According to Manovich “Achieving synthetic realism means attaining two goals-the simulation of the codes of traditional cinematography and the simulation of the perceptual properties of real life objects and environments. (Bostic, Pg. 358) This is no longer just art and design of film, this is computer-programming and engineering at its very best. Movies have entirely been turned around due to the convenience and reality that CGI brings to the table. Never before have we been able to realize such fantastic imagery, blending live action with computer-generated imagery with seamless agility. ” (Bostic, pg. 359) There is now a level of difficulty even for professionals in the field of special effects to determine what is reality and what is computer-generated. The imagery we see on TV and in the movie theatres has entirely changed what our expectations are when about to watch a movie. If a movie like Godzilla (1954) came out in todays’ world, the likely hood of it being a success is not probable.

Watching a rubber suited monster attack a city is not the most eye pleasing special effect. A movie with no special effects doesn’t contain the believable factor. Where as a movie such as Jurassic Park (1993) containing several CGI, is one that brings a realistic feel to the dinosaurs. Humans and creatures/animals interacting with a realistic feel made science fiction movies much more believable. For example, in hit series of movies, Star Wars: Phantom Menace (1999) Jar-Jar Binks, a Gungan that helps Qui-Gon-Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, was completely CGI created and continuously standing near humans.

The combination of background, scenery and creatures mixed with humans in outer space was “mind blowing” cool. The series became one of the most popular of all time. When imagining CGI involving humans and creatures, I think of a creature of social reality as well as a possible creature of science fiction (a hybrid machine). The ability to do this has opened a futuristic and fictional possibility to movies that was never possible. To watch a human on screen mutate, transform, or travel through time and dreams, creates a world that one can only imagine.

CGI has turned horror, fantasy, and martial art into a form of hybridized science fiction. According to Abbott In Terminator 2: Judgment day (1991) “No longer simply the fusion of flesh and a metal endoskeleton, the new terminator was supposedly made of liquid metal able to transform from one shape to another. ” (Abbott, Pg 92) Every year fiction movies are becoming more innovative with all the possibilities CGI offers. CGI has brought so much potential to the drawing boards of the movie industry. The industry has been using CGI in majority of movies for the past 15 years since the release of Toy Story.

The difference between Toy Story and Toy Story 3 in graphics is hardly noticeable. The biggest differences are within the new TV resolutions and Blu-Ray players. CGI has been some what updated and few glitches have been fixed, but it remains to be as used and as efficient as it was once Pixar mastered it with Toy Story in the mid ‘1990s. A movie such as Avatar, which is widely known for its graphics and unbelievable imagery, is setting new standards for CGI in the world of film. “After writing this story many years ago, James Cameron discovered that the technology he needed to make it happen did not exist.

So, he went out and created it in collaboration with the best effects minds in the business. This is motion capture brought to a new high where every detail of the actors’ performances gets preserved in the final CG character as they appear on the screen. Yes, those eyes are no longer dead holes but big and expressive, almost dominating the wide and long alien faces. ” (Honeycutt) James Cameron spent several years with highly trained computer-graphic engineers trying to exceed the limits of computer-generated imagery. In the end, after working so hard to bring a new level of realism to CGI, he made billions and broke more CGI barriers.

It would be at the most difficulty to argue that CGI has not changed the, expectations that viewers have when entering a movie theater with, the requirements needed to be a successful animator today, the change in production of movies, and the possibilities that producers can bring to the screen. A film without CGI is typically not as good, because all of the films that come out of the cinema as blockbusters include a great amount of CGI and explosions, therefore as an audience we now expect them. Movies, television, and advertisement have been changed with CGI to please the audience and take cinema to a new possible level.

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