The film industry has come a long way from where it began. In the past few years, CGI animation techniques have helped create various blockbuster movies. Think of the best fantasy series around; Game of Thrones, LOTR series, Harry Potter. What do all of these movies have in common? Breathtaking CGI!
But what is CGI, how does it work, and how can it be used to create more unbelievable movie scenes in a very realistic manner? Well, this blog is all about that! Keep reading to know more.
What is CGI technology
Computer Generated Imagery involves generating or manipulating images and animations entirely using computers, allowing for the creation of realistic or fantastical visuals that may be challenging or impossible to achieve through traditional means.
Too technical to understand? Well, think of computer graphics as a tool filmmakers use that makes their wildest imaginations appear on screens and in pictures. It’s not just about cartoons or special effects in movies. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) can pop up in lots of places, like video games, ads, news, and even art.
Now, CGI animators use a computer to make art and realistic visuals. These artists / animators can create things in two dimensions (2D) like flat images or text, and also in three dimensions (3D) like realistic characters and scenes. They can make things look shiny, create special effects, and even make objects move, all with the help of computer programs.
In movies, CGI is like the technique that makes incredible things happen. For example, in the “Avengers” movies, they use CGI to make superheroes fly and do amazing stunts. And in “Jurassic Park,” CGI made dinosaurs come back to life and run around like they were real.
But here’s the tricky part: CGI has to be really good to make us believe it’s real. When it’s done well, it’s not very noticeable because everything fits in well. But when it’s not so great, it can look weird and fake, and that’s a bummer.
What is CGI Animation
CGI animation refers to the process of creating animated images and sequences using computer graphics and digital technology. Unlike traditional animation techniques that involve drawing or manipulating physical objects for each frame, CGI animation relies entirely on computer-generated visuals.
So, CGI animation is basically like digital puppetry for storytelling and entertainment.
There are three main ways to make animated movies: drawing each frame by hand, using stop-motion (like claymation), and CGI.
Hand-drawn animation, where artists create each frame by hand, was the traditional way. Classic Disney movies like “Cinderella” were made this way. But it’s time-consuming and tough work.
Stop-motion animation, like in “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” involved moving physical objects a tiny bit for each frame. It’s cool but takes forever to finish because every little move needs to be planned.
Then, CGI came along and changed the game. Think of movies like “Toy Story” or “Frozen”. Instead of drawing or moving things by hand, they used computers to create everything. This meant they could make 3D worlds and characters that weren’t bound by the rules of the real world. They could be as real or as crazy as they wanted.
So, CGI made animated movies way more exciting and versatile. It let filmmakers create incredible worlds and characters, like talking toys, that wouldn’t have been possible with the old methods.
How Does CGI Work?
Imagine you have a super-smart computer that’s really good at drawing and painting, but it does it all with numbers and maths. First, artists and animators create a 3D model or a digital drawing on the computer. They tell the computer how things should look, like the colour of a character’s hair or how shiny a car should be.
Now, here’s where the good stuff happens: the computer calculates how light would bounce off these digital objects, just like it does in the real world. This makes everything look real, with shadows, reflections etc. using real life applicable physics.
When it’s time to make a movie or a video game, the computer takes all these digital creations and puts them together into a sequence, frame by frame. It shows these frames super fast, like a movie, and that’s what you see on your screen.
So, CGI is like a digital artist that creates amazing 3D worlds and characters using maths and computer codes, making movies, games, and more look incredibly real or out-of-this-world fantastical.
CGI Animation in Filmmaking
CGI acts as the backbone of visuals when it comes to movies that require digital alteration. In movies, not everything you see is real. We all know that the tiger in “Life of Pi” or the superheroes in “The Avengers” – they’re not actual things; they’re created on computers (if that came as a surprise to you, wait till you hear about Santa).
Apart from fantasy genre films, many “normal” movies have such realistic CGI that it changes the way those shots are perceived. From fantasy to real life based films, every movie has a touch of CGI. Take a look for yourself.
Twenty years after its release, people may have outgrown the black-leather and shades aesthetic from “The Matrix” but if there is something that still turns heads today, it is the CGI used in this movie.
The movie worked on the mechanism of “bullet time” which is an effect that surprised all viewers. How did “The Matrix” freeze time during filming? The filmmakers lined up a set of cameras along a preset path and then each camera took a shot- one by one within split seconds. Following this, the CGI and VFX artists stitched together these scenes and history was made.
Now, while LOTR series’ “The Hobbit” was filled with CGI scenes, there is one element that surpasses everything else. When you’re reading “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” it can be a bit tricky to imagine what Gollum really looks like. The author, J.R.R. Tolkien, describes him as having a complexion that’s either dark, sickly, or ghostly pale. So, how did the creators bring this vision to life?
To bring the character Gollum to life, actor Andy Serkis had to wear a special costume. This costume was like a snug grey jumpsuit, and it had tiny sensors attached all over his body and face. These sensors did something really cool – they recorded every little move he made and all the expressions on his face.
The Lion King
Just like how filmmakers used advanced CGI to make “The Jungle Book ” in 2016 look super realistic, they did the same for “The Lion King ” remake. It’s like they transported you to a real African savannah. Every single thing you see in the movie, like the beautiful landscapes and even the lovable characters Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa, were all made by computers, but they looked as real as if you were watching a documentary.
So, how did they make “The Lion King” look so realistic? Artists created digital 3D models of all the characters, animals, and environments in the movie. To make the animals move realistically, they used motion capture. This means they had real actors and performers act out the scenes while wearing special suits with sensors.
Make Your Work Stand Out With CGI Animation
Movies are using CGI more than ever, and there are exciting innovations happening. Are you looking to add impressive and lifelike content to your project? If so, Incredimate, a skilled CGI animation agency, is here to assist you.
We offer a comprehensive range of services to fulfil your visualisation needs, whether it’s creating stunning game characters or producing animations for products and architectural projects.
Furthermore, we offer various partnership options to align with your company’s preferences. You can outsource the entire project to us, and we’ll manage it for you. Alternatively, you can choose to run the project yourself while relying on our resources. We’re here to help you bring your project to life with top-notch CGI and animation expertise.