Timeline of CGI in movies

From Academic Kids

Pioneering uses of computer-generated imagery in film and television:



Pic Film Year
No pic Westworld 1973
First use of 2D computer digitized images as part of a feature film (infrared point of view of Gunslinger robot in Westworld).
No pic Futureworld 1976
First use of 3D computer graphics for animated hand and face. Used 2D digital compositing to materialize characters over a background.
Missing image

Star Wars 1977
First use of 3D vector graphics for the trench run briefing sequence.
Missing image

Superman 1978
First CGI film titles.
Missing image

Alien 1979
Used raster wireframe rendering for navigation monitors in the landing sequence.
No pic The Black Hole 1979
Disney uses CGI for the opening titles.


Pic Film Year
No pic Looker 1981
First CGI human character, Cindy. First use of shaded 3D CGI as we think of it today.
Missing image

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 1982
ILM computer graphics division develops "Genesis effect".
Missing image

Tron 1982
Extensive use of 3D CGI including the famous Light Cycle sequence.
Missing image

2010: The Year We Make Contact 1984
CGI was used to create thousands of monoliths for the end sequence.
Missing image

The Last Starfighter 1984
Uses CGI for all spaceship shots, replacing traditional models. First use of 'integrated CGI' where the effects are supposed to represent real world objects.
Missing image

The Adventures of Andre and Wally B 1984
Lucasfilm's computer animation division creates an all-CGI animated short. The first CGI animation with motion blur effects.
No pic Lensman (SF Shinseiki Lensman) 1984
First anime to use CGI.
Missing image

Young Sherlock Holmes 1985
Lucasfilm creates the first photorealistic CGI character, 'stained glass knight'.
No pic The Great Mouse Detective 1986
First major use of computer animation in an animated film, the depiction of Big Ben's gears.
Missing image

Luxo Jr 1986
Pixar's first fully 3D animated short film. First use of shadows in CGI. First CGI film to be nominated for an Academy award.
Missing image

Max Headroom 1987
Computer-mediated live action figure.
Willow 1988
Uses morphing in a feature film.
Missing image

The Abyss 1989
First 3D digital water effect.
Missing image

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989
First all-digital composite.


Pic Film Year
Missing image

Total Recall 1990
Use of motion capture for CGI characters. (More information is needed.)
No pic Die Hard 2: Die Harder 1990
First digitally-manipulated matte painting.
Missing image

Terminator 2 1991
First realistic human movements on a CG character.
Missing image

Lawnmower Man 1992
No pic Death Becomes Her 1992
First human skin CG software.
No pic VeggieTales 1993
First completely computer animated video. Also, the first with talking vegetables. First bible-related CGI.
Missing image

Jurassic Park 1993
First photorealistic CG characters.
Babylon 5 1993
First television series to use CGI as the primary method for its visual effects. First TV use of virtual sets.
No pic The Flintstones 1994
First digital fur.
Missing image

ReBoot 1994
First computer animated television series.
No pic Waterworld 1995
First realistic CG water.
No pic Casper 1995
First CGI lead character (preceded Toy Story by six months). First CGI characters to interact realistically with live actors.
Missing image

Toy Story 1995
First CGI feature-length animation.


Pic Film Year
Missing image

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 2001
First realistic feature-length CGI movie.
Missing image

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius 2001
First CGI feature length movie made using off-the-shelf hardware and software.
Missing image

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie) 2002
First use of AI for digital actors (using the Massive software developed by Weta Workshop).
Missing image

The Matrix Reloaded 2003
The Burly Brawl - the first use of Universal Capture, 3D recording of actor's performance, its editing and rendering.
Missing image

The Matrix Revolutions 2003
Superpunch - the first realistic close-up of detailed facial deformation on a synthetic human.
Missing image

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow 2004
First movie with all-CGI backgrounds and live actors.
Missing image

The Polar Express 2004
First CGI movie that used performance capture for all actors.

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