Watch: Full-Length 'Short History' Video of CG Characters in Movies

August 10, 2011
Source: Awards Daily

Short History of CG Characters in Movies

So when I first read the title for this, I thought "short history", okay great, this should be good. Turns out it's a 20-minute Vimeo and much more of an extensive history of prominent CGI characters in movies, ranging from King Kong of 1933 (yep, they start with that) all the way up to Benjamin Button and Cameron's Avatar. It doesn't include Rise of the Planet of the Apes yet, but with all the great (Oscar) discussion recently about how this performance capture is pushing the boundaries yet again and all of Weta's amazing work in that movie, I thought it fitting to feature this anyway. It's a good watch, even at that length. Enjoy!

Thanks to Awards Daily for the tip. This entire thing is narrated, and by claiming fair use, includes clips of just about every great CGI character, which is why it's so long. "It's a little rough around the edges," creator 'lnrdshelby' says. Yea, trim it down! That said, though we've seen videos about CGI's origins and that Young Sherlock Holmes clip, it's still awesome/mesmerizing to watch the genius of modern movies unfold before our eyes. Also in honor of Weta on Rise of the Apes, io9 has a great list: 10 Computer-Animated or Motion-Captured Characters Who Actually Look Cool. There's plenty more great CGI characters on the horizon, too.

Find more posts: Cool Stuff, Discuss, To Watch



pretty bad ass little doc

DaftBot on Aug 11, 2011


The Incredible Hulk (not Ang Lees Hulk) used similar technology as the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I was hoping that it would be mentioned in the video.

Cinemamind on Aug 11, 2011


thank you Alex

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011



Davide Coppola on Aug 11, 2011


I thought Polar Express Deserved a mention as well...being an early use of motion capture...

Kamish on Aug 11, 2011


That Skeleton scene is amazing considering when it was made. I wish some of the CGI done today had that kind of heart in it. But for me the one movie that stand out above the rest is Jurassic Park. I had never seen that clip using stop motion, it was great ūüôā Haha, Casper, I used to love that as a kid!!! Final Fantasy was such a magical experience at the movies. I was so ansious to see that movie, and although it didn't live up to the hype, I had a blast and was mesmerized by the effects. That scene in the Matrix with all the agents Smith was not that good visually, but it was epic! I think Andy Serkis¬†has¬†¬†a permanent spot¬†in the history of movie making, much more than most of the best actors of our generation. Even though King Kong was kind of crap,lol. Ah, of course he had to show CGI naked Angelina Jolie! After watching the film I had absolutely no idea that the old Benjamin Button was CGI. I think that was the only time I missed such a big use of CGI. Zoe Saldana gave one hell of a performance in Avatar, that made the movie for me.

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011


There's some inconstancies in his documentary. He lists The Two Towers Gollum prior to to The Attack of the Clones Yoda fight sequence in chronology. Davey Jones was a landmark in realism, it wasn't just that critics were fooled it was also the audience. It shocked those in the CG industry that had no clue that it such realism was possible yet. This work in CG deserves more recognition than it received here in this documentary. Documentaries need to be objective, his disappointment seams a bit fan-boyish of Jar Jar, I'd loved to seen a clip of Wato mentioned or briefly shown. During the end credit he gets some of the countries wrong. Lord of the Rings Germany, Terminator 2 France, King Kong Germany, all wrong. Avatar he lists the UK, but no mention of New Zealand or USA (ILM). He should of listed the main visual effects studios, here's an example, Avatar - Weta, ILM, Framstore. 

John on Aug 11, 2011


thanks for sharing

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011


In this documentary there was a mention that ILM created CG muscles for the  Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, it was simulated to look like there was through manipulating the skin to give the impression. The first time ILM did any CG muscles was on the Mummy in 1999. Dinosaurs done by ILM didn't have muscles until Jurassic Park III in 2001.   

John on Aug 11, 2011


I hear ya on the JP Muscles...  Might have been a Somers thing, but the CGI Mummy looked really cartoony.  No mention of Starship Troopers which was suprising. 

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011


Was a nice watch. I would like to see a "sequel" to this 'short' film, of the worst use of CG characters through out motion picture history. Bad CGI is bad CGI.

David Banner on Aug 11, 2011


I had fun watching that.  Big BIG Ups to ILM as well as Weta for doin what they do.  Sony has come a long way since the FREAKY manequin-like eyes in the Polar Express.  Only complain was the absence of the morph scene in Willow.   

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011


The morph technology was a breakthrough in CG tech, but this documentary was primarily the evolution of the CG characters and creatures. 

John on Aug 12, 2011


Really cool!

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011


Loved it. 

Gianni Persello on Aug 11, 2011


This is one of the most awesome things I have seen posted on this site, thank you!

NeoSlyfer on Aug 11, 2011


odd why isn't Transformers on this list for best graphics ?

NeoSlyfer on Aug 11, 2011


Because the movies sucked enough not to mention it.

Anonymous on Aug 12, 2011


Sidenote : Music snippet at the end and beginning for those wondering is "Smiling" by Harry Gregson-Williams from the movie Man on fire, I'm a sucker for those sad piano pieces he makes (similar piano bit in Armageddon made by him and Trevor Rabin, also great).

Anonymous on Aug 11, 2011


Thank you very very much for this vid

Ruben on Aug 13, 2011


What about The Lawnmower man? Sure it was bad CG but at least it was a full CG character. And NO! Stop-motion is not CG, especially back before Star Wars, who pioneered computer-controlled stop motion.

Anonymous on Aug 13, 2011


Man I wish people would stop giving head to Avatar. Don't get me wrong, it is very beautiful movie. But Jesus Christ does the story suck big time. Just by watching 10 minutes of the film, I figured out exactly where the story was going. I can't even enjoy the movie because of the carppy story. I'm a 3D Animator and it's sad that directors and story writers seem to only rely on the special effects to make a movie instead of a amazing story line. Another example: Transformers

Christian Fernandez on Aug 22, 2011

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