->''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJlmYh27MHg "How'd you do this?"]]''
-->-- '''Dr. Alan Grant''', ''Film/JurassicPark''

Computer-generated graphics have been a revolution in filmmaking. From a slow start in the late seventies, through the eighties where they were seen as a less-than-fully-practical utility, to the nineties and beyond when they started to become nearly ubiquitous in all blockbusters and even many less SpecialEffects-heavy films and became cheap enough to appear on TV.

Computer-generated images have given us SerkisFolk, extreme slow motion, and the only chances at effective screen adaptations of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. On the other hands, its early days were full of ConspicuousCG, SpecialEffectFailure, and {{Narm}}. In fact, it still is.

For this reason, some filmmakers have had a sort of HypeAversion to the use of computer-generated effects, proudly sticking to PracticalEffects, while others have leapt on it as a chance to realise what they were imagining all those years before.

See also AllCGICartoon.


[[folder: Note: Due to the extensive use of CGI, try to keep examples to the really interesting ones. ]]



[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' was the first fully-computer-generated feature film.
* The first genuine attempt at photo-realistic humans done entirely by computer was ''Anime/FinalFantasyTheSpiritsWithin''.
* ''Disney/TheBlackCauldron'' is the first traditionally animated film to use CGI. This consisted of {{Rotoscoping}} wire-frame graphics onto animation cels, creating an effect similar to CelShading. Objects created this way include the cauldron itself and the boat used to escape the Horned King's castle. Disney had previously done this sort of shortcut for animating solid objects by rotoscoping models with lines painted on the edges.
** While ''Cauldron'' was first to use CGI, ''Disney/TheGreatMouseDetective'' was the first to ''publicize'' it. It was used for the gears inside Big Ben during the climactic fight.
* ''Disney/TheRescuersDownUnder'' was the first traditionally animated film to use fully-rendered CG background elements (the aerial shots of New York and the Sydney Opera House, the globe in the TravelMontage). Not coincidentally, it was also the first film done entirely with Disney's proprietary Computer-Aided Post-produciton System (CAPS), which replaced hand-painted cels and optical camera work with digital coloring and compositing. Again, its use wasn't widely publicized until the next film--''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' and its celebrated ballroom sequence.
* For ''Disney/{{Tarzan}}'', Disney developed a technique known as Deep Canvas, which allowed artists to "paint" on top of CGI models so that they mesh seamlessly with hand-painted backgrounds.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Westworld}}'' from 1973 was the very first feature film to use CGI. They used digital image processing to create a RoboCam effect.
** Its sequel ''{{Futureworld}}'' featured a 3D CGI hand and face.
*** You could argue that the movie ''Film/{{Vertigo}}'' was the very first film to feature digital art in its iconic opening sequence. The spirals featured in the sequence were made by suspending a pen from a military computer called the M5 gun director. (The M5 was used during World War II to aim anti-aircraft cannons at moving targets.) You can read more info [[http://rhizome.org/editorial/2013/may/9/did-vertigo-introduce-computer-graphics-cinema/ here.]]
* Creator/GeorgeLucas and Creator/IndustrialLightAndMagic were big drivers behind the use of CGI. ''Franchise/StarWars'' was the first major mainstream use, but only for small details. Yet over the years, ILM has been behind many of the developments and successful uses.
** ''Star Wars: Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' was pretty famous for not having a single on-location shot, with everything done with [[ChromaKey green-screen studios]]. Though some sets were complete sets with no green screen, including the interior of the Separatist bunker on Mustafar, and the ''Tantive IV'' that would become Leia's ship in the opening of ''Film/ANewHope''.
*** While no first-unit shooting took place on location; second-unit work was carried out in Sicily, Thailand, and Switzerland.
*** ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow'' was famous for doing the same on a relatively minuscule budget.
* While the original trilogy kept mostly to PracticalEffects, CGI was used in ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheKingdomOfTheCrystalSkull''.
* ''Film/TheLastStarfighter'' was the first film to use CGI for spaceships (it shows).
* ''Film/{{Tron}}'' is usually cited as the first film to use CGI extensively, although due to the enormous complexity and expense of this, it only has twenty minutes of actual full CGI. The rest was specially designed sets, matte paintings, and hand-drawn effects (for the glowing TronLines).
** The "Solar Sailer" sequence in ''TRON'' is not only the first use of actual polygonal rendered geometry on film (as opposed to rendered primitives like the Recognizers and Light Cycles), it is also still considered a triumph in the art even today.
* The stain-glass knight in ''Film/YoungSherlockHolmes'' is the first computer-generated character in a feature film. It was done by Creator/{{Pixar}}, back when it was still part of ILM.
* Played straight and averted with Creator/MichaelBay's ''Franchise/TransformersFilmSeries''. The robots themselves are the most detailed to date, but nearly all the explosions and similar effects in these movies are [[PracticalEffects actually there on-set]].
* James Cameron's ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' used extensive CGI (in 3D) for most creatures of the alien moon Pandora, as well as the motion-captured Na'vi aliens, human technology, etc. to very good effect.
* ''Film/SinCity'' had sets that were almost 100% computer generated and CGI was used to spot-color many shots or even splice two actors into the same scene.
* The Genesis Sequence in ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'' was Pixar's first animation outside of their shorts.
* ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'' introduced the T-1000 liquid metal android, complete with transforming its arms into blades and turning into different characters. One of the most iconic shots from the film is the completely silver humanoid figure [[UnflinchingWalk marching out of a fireball and slowly reforming into a cop]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* CGI caught on much sooner in broadcasting than it did in film, largely due to the smaller budgets involved, and most of its appearances on TV were in advertising, StationIdentification and educational shows like ''Series/TheElectricCompany'' due to its strange but eye-catching appearance. The first computers used in video work were analog machines like Scanimate, which were in turn based on the switcher consoles used in TV studios (some of which later incorporated Scanimate-like effects such as picture-in-picture). Later on, as digital computers became more capable, animation from companies like Cranston/Csuri, Digital Productions and [[Creator/DreamWorksAnimation Pacific Data Images]] became common, as did special-effects systems like the Chyron and the Paintbox. TV commercials are also what kept {{Pixar}} alive in the years between leaving ILM and the premiere of ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory''.
* 1990s TV classic ''Series/BabylonFive'' was only made possible by using CGI. Having received heavily burned fingers due to the massive budget overruns of ''Series/{{V}}'', WarnerBrothers was not willing to stump up a mega budget for JMS's epic space opera, and using CGI was literally the only way the show could get made.
* In ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}'', most of the time the only non-CGI things on screen are the actors, the clothes on their backs, and the chairs they sit on. The show completely dispenses with building sets and simply uses blue screen backgrounds, even for relatively "normal" locations like Magnus's office. This also makes ''Sanctuary'' one of the cheapest sci-fi programs on TV.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' experimented with it as soon as it became available--this means its first use was in ''1966'', in the printed letter effect motif used for the titles of "The Tenth Planet". Some more complex but still simple 2D CGI began to appear also relatively early in 1977, although these were 2D animations and mostly used as a mask for [[ChromaKey CSO]] of PracticalEffects (see the TARDIS forced transportation effect and the 'staircase descent' vortex effect in "The Deadly Assassin"). In the same season and year, 2D computer animation was [=CSOed=] onto a physical prop to create the effect on the eyes of the [[RobotWar robot revolutionaries]] in "The Robots of Death". The late 80s saw the opening sequence reimagined with CGI for the first time, as well as the first uses of 3D CGI in the show itself (notably the regeneration from the Sixth to Seventh Doctor). The new series uses it copiously.