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Feature
A History Of CGI In The Movies
The highs and lows of a game changer

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A History Of CGI In The Movies  | The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

Year: 2002

Significance: Motion-capture and CG artificial intelligence

With Avatar and District 9 now behind it, Weta Digital has joined Pixar and ILM at the bleeding edge of CG special effects, but it was Peter Jackson’s Tolkien epic that got the ball rolling. Thanks to Andy Serkis’ remarkable performance and Weta’s digital effects team, Gollum became the first motion-captured CG character to interact directly with other actors. Traditional animation techniques, including rotoscoping and keyframing, were used to replace Serkis’s face with Gollum’s after Jackson decided against making Gollum an entirely CGI character. “We have little piece of Gollum in the first film,” says Jackson, “little teasing the blips of Gollum in the mines. That was our R&D kind of prototype Gollum. We basically threw him away at the beginning of this year because we were able to do so much better. We rebuilt Gollum from scratch – using new software that had been written, new software that our guys had written – and improved him a lot.” LOTR was also notable for its MASSIVE software (acronym boffins will know it better as ‘Multiple Agent Simulation System in Virtual Environment’), which generated artificial intelligent CG orcs by the thousands, lending its epic battles serious levels of realism.

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Your Comments

1 RE: RE:
Well clearly Star Trek II was beaten to it by several movies there. Flight of the Navigator should be included really though. More

Posted by rich on Thursday December 23, 2010, 22:01

2 RE: RE:
I think you missed out Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - I've always been led to believe that the Genesis Device simulation was the first CGI sequence in cinema. More

Posted by Mandragora on Thursday December 23, 2010, 20:46

3 RE:
Classic film The Last Starfighter:) Surely it must be included as it had a floating camera during which showed the 3d space and super imposed cock pit space battles. Long before the star wars trilogy 1997 special eds. Also dont forget Flight of the Navigator (also 1985 i think) which had morphing and reflection effects on the ship. More

Posted by jimbosolo on Wednesday December 22, 2010, 14:49


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