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Sugar Wiki / Visual Effects of Awesome

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This walking blob of mercury made us believe it would kill us in a heartbeat.
Admit it: When the White House got blown up and the Empire State Building got incinerated, you wanted to turn on the news and make sure that they were still there.

When that first T-Rex roared, you had to fight the urge to run out of the chair.

You spent years wondering where the casting department found those talking trees...

...and just what the hell kind of stuntwoman could really make her head turn a full 360 degrees.

When you saw the Big G march in, you felt the earth tremble,

and when that giant ape appeared, you felt your spine tingle.

You really did believe that a man could fly,

and shouted "Hallelujah!" as the cliffs floated by.

When the thing revealed itself, you screamed "WHAT THE FUCK?!"

and then when that Star Destroyer flew overhead, you wanted to duck.

This is the work of Visual Effects artists. Some should be called Visual Effects Geniuses. For some reason, most of them are called employees of Industrial Light & Magic or the Weta Workshop, but that's another story....

The unique properties of film and video allow people to contrive images of things that aren't actually there, or aren't actually happening. Some are things that are impossible, like say, liquid metal that can mimic people and objects. Others happened at a time long ago, like ancient Roman battles. Others can and do happen all the time, but are too difficult to actually film, like a train derailment for instance.

The advent of computer technology has allowed film and television to reach a point where it seems ANYthing that can be imagined can be filmed. Surprisingly though, visual effects go back to the very beginning of filmed work. Some of the methods used are surprisingly low-tech, they include animation, double exposure of film, models and stop-motion. Some are so effective, they are used even today.

There are plenty examples of bad attempts. These are the awesome moments; the visual effects achievements that have set the standard and helped sell tons of tickets.

When this standard applies to everything, from historical accuracy and technical competence, you might start seeing a case of Development Heaven.

Compare it to Scenery Porn, Awesome Art and Technology Porn. See also Demoscene, as those guys deal with this all the time.



    open/close all folders 

  • This Aardman Animations Duracell ad; Parkouring pink rabbits have never looked so good.
  • Pretty much any commercial done by Digital Domain, Framestore, Image Engine, Industrial Light & Magic, The Mill, Moving Picture Company, Prime Focus or WETA will fall into this. Partially because they're also responsible for many high profile shows and films. Such as Walking with Dinosaurs, Primeval, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Harry Potter series, The Tree of Life, The Transformers movies, Avatar, Watchmen, District 9 and Titanic among others.
  • This ad for Romanian mineral water.
  • The Cartier ad, L'Odyesse de Cartier.
  • The ad for Absolut Greyhound set to Swedish House Mafia is absolutely amazing.
  • This Ikea adnote  utilizes very seamless editing. There are also two similar, yet unique, versions in one minute and in 30 second long formats. The best part? all three were done in under a week.
  • Transformers: Generation 1 managed to pull this off in their commercials' hand-drawn segments later on, take a look.
  • This ad for BMW X4 features the car driving through several cities as the entire world literally rolls and undulates like waves in the ocean. The way the earth itself waves up and down and the buildings on it swaying accordingly is nothing short of breathtaking, especially in the second-to-last scene, showing the undulating city from the air just to show how huge those rolling waves are. It even cuts to an interior shot of a building at one point, showing balls on a Pool table rolling around as the room slowly falls and tilts due to a wave rolling underneath the building, and you can just see another building moving outside the background window. That's not even getting into the dynamic shadows the shifting buildings cast, and the cars seen driving on the undulating streets. One year later, they then produced this follow up advert for the BMW X1, this time with a focus on natural landscapes, and it's just as awe-inspiring to witness them undulate and shift.
  • An ad for Empire Beer uses CGI to turn a normal looking castle full of people into a huge and impressive bouncy castle, with its interior fluidly wobbling and bending like crazy as a party raves inside, and shows people on an upper floor balcony actually moving with it as it heavily sways with the bouncing. What makes this all the more impressive is that the advert was shot back in 2003, when incredible CGI effects such as this was a rarity in adverts back then.
  • Marvel's 2016 Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad with Ant-Man and the The Incredible Hulk features stellar CGI on both heroes that's on par with anything in the MCU, including glorious bouncing Coke droplets when Ant-Man gets the Coke open.
  • The famous commercials for M&M's with computer-animated living M&Ms have been going on since 1996, and the CGI has fit incredibly well into the real world pretty much from day 1.
  • The television spot for Forza Motorsport 6 features the game's cover car, the 2017 Ford GT, driving through well-realised 3D renditions of several classic racing games. What pushes it into a case study in visual effect perfection however is that the fact that the Ford GT featured in the ad is actually real; a rig was built that could lift up and tilt the car as needed, with the car being seamlessly inserted into the CG world afterwards. The fact that the effect is so seamless and invisible is just impressive.
  • The North American House Hippo, a beloved Canadian Public Service Announcement, is a case of this backfiring. The PSA appears to present a "Hinterland Who's Who"-style documentary about a species of tiny hippopotamus that hides in Canadian and northern US households, followed by a voiceover telling viewers that the house hippo obviously doesn't exist, and that they should use critical thinking instead of blindly believing everything they see on TV. However, the hippo was edited in so seamlessly that many kids ended up not believing the narrator who said that it didn't exist, instead becoming convinced that the house hippo is real and that they might be able to spot one if they stay up late and offer it pieces of toast and string.
  • The bottled water brand Volvic had an advertising campaign in the UK in the 2000's featuring a puppet Tyrannosaurus rex and volcano named Alan and George respectively. Besides the puppets being lively, the puppeteering is pulled off with good enough special effects going with them to make the whole thing look like it was done without any puppeteers revealing their arms or bodies at all.

  • Whenever a Digivolution sequence in Digimon features heavy use of CGI, the result is usually nothing short of awesome.
  • Blood: The Last Vampire is one of the most disturbingly realistic, ultra-fluent pieces of animation out there. At times you really don't know if it's CG, digitally animated or actually filmed material.
  • Afro Samurai. Both it, its compilation movie, and the video game adaptation. It has perhaps some of the most stunning, mind-bending visuals ever produced. Yes, even Gorn is beautiful here.
  • Anything Studio BONES produces. Just watch the opening to Ouran High School Host Club and tell me you didn't climax to all the awesome.
  • The Rebuild of Evangelion series certainly qualifies. While anime and animation in general has a reputation of having really cool special effects (helped by the fact that they don't have to worry about inserting live action actors into the shot) the first Rebuild movie stands out because if it weren't for the characters' heads and a slight color change a lot of scenes and character models would be indistinguishable from Real Life.
    • Bonus points to Ramiel, who went from just a giant floating octohedron to a shapeshifting, incomprehensible horror.
      • The thing that really sells the portrayal of Ramiel in Rebuild, though, is that while Ramiel's transformation effects are almost painfully easy to render in CGI, it's done in a way that looks photorealistic when you know for a fact that such a thing in real life would be physically impossible. Result: The scene would have been less terrifying if it had fallen into the Unintentional Uncanny Valley. That's right, the visual effects are actually more horrifying than even the darkest and deepest depths of the Uncanny Valley. Congratulations for your fantastic work, Anno. You really did it.
    • Additionally for the first Rebuild movie, its Blu-ray release was the first test of a new video codec designed to get rid of "color-banding" (example here. Severe color-banding on the left, with the best elimination of it shown on the right). According to the developers of the technology, it exceeded their expectations tenfold. Even if they had failed to meet those expectations, they would still have managed to achieve impressive results.
  • The original Neon Genesis Evangelion itself had some spectacular-looking battles, which can be further appreciated by the fact the series was made on a very tight budget.
  • Karas. Along with the above-mentioned Evangelion 1.11, it is one of the most beautiful anime ever created.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann certainly qualifies. Gainax is probably the only anime studio that can take a battle between two robots in space, a concept that's been used hundreds of times, and make it look so overwhelming. Freaking galaxies are being thrown and blown up, the special attacks become more devastating with each move and Gurren Lagann JUST. KEEPS. GROWING.
    • Cranked up to eleven with the two compilation movies. Especially the second one....
  • Summer Wars. The scene where Love Machine rises into his One-Winged Angel form is what dreams are made of
  • 5 Centimeters per Second. The Scenery Porn is overwhelming! Current poster movie for Scenery Porn.
  • AKIRA is gorgeously animated throughout, but the best animation has to be Tetsuo's mutation. That scene definitely would not have been as effectively horrific if it had been handled by lesser animators. In fact, the whole film features some of the smoothest, most fluid, and overall most painstaking hand-drawn animation ever put to film, which one of the things that this film is fondly remembered for due to its extremely high detail. To elaborate on the film's level of detail, watch the characters' phonically-animated lips and mouths when they talk. Because AKIRA is one of few animes to feature pre-recorded dialogue, it notably forgoes the standard use of lip-flaps, meaning that the character's mouths move in perfect accordance to what they're saying. The whole film is also shot in a solid 24 frames-per-second, twice the framerate of the average anime, includes unbelievably accurate 3D polygonal effects that are all hand-drawn (as well as incredibly photorealistic environments and movie-quality camera movement), and uses 327 different colors (50 made exclusively for the film); however, that's not even getting into the fact that this entire film consists of 2,212 shots and utilizes over 160,000 cels over the course of a 124-minute runtime. And to top it all off, the film, despite its visual complexity and the use of CGI on only one of the scenes, wasn't animated by any computers whatsoever - every minute was drawn on traditional cels. There's a good reason for the film's reputation as being widely credited with breaking anime into mainstream Western audiences.
  • Similarly, the original Ghost in the Shell had great animation, most notably in the beginning when Kusanagi's body is being created during the opening credits.
  • Paprika. In terms of both technical quality and pure visual imagination.
  • Yu Gi Oh The Darkside Of Dimensions is the best the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise has ever looked. Special mentions go to the CGI appearances of the Egyptian Gods, and whenever Atem appears onscreen.
  • The transformation sequences from 80% of Magical Girl anime.
  • When the Pokemon Contest battles and appeal rounds (special mention goes to the Grand Festival) in the Diamond and Pearl series are one thing, the upgraded effects and animation in Unova have skyrocketed to coolness levels off the freakin' charts.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya. The Yuki v. Asakura battle.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st. Every. Single. Second. of. it. The Nanoha series is known for having good animation and detailed fight scenes, but The Movie takes it to another level entirely. The animation quality is so incredible, so vast, so amazingly detailed, that it must be seen in order to be believed. It makes the animation of the original series that it's retelling look several decades older than it actually is.
  • Currently, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is the single greatest example of this trope throughout the Gundam franchise. While it is expected for an OVA series to have higher quality, the amazing detail of every fight in this is awe-inspiring.
  • The silver eyes and Awakened Beings in Claymore.
  • Naruto Shippuden really started ramping up its appearance in the Pain Arc, specifically episode 166-167. The story of Naruto's birth was portrayed in movie-quality animation, and the beginning of the Fourth Great Ninja War mixed a little CG into the awesomeness.
    • Arcs which are really great for animation are the Immortal's Arc where we get movie quality animation for the final fight with the immortal duo, as well as the Hunt for Itachi arc where both Jiraiya and Itachi's final living arc with both their deaths and their final fights getting excellent animation. However, after that the people at Studio Pierrot had a change of leadership or something, since quality... dropped, even for crucial arcs like the Invasion of Pain (which was barely passable). It became joked by Naruto fans that Studio Pierrot only cares about Sasuke which gives his arcs the best animation... at least until Sasuke and Kakashi's skirmish which a flash animator did far better. The aforementioned Birth of Naruto mini-Arc did have movie quality animation, shame that Naruto vs Kurama (Kyubi) couldn't have the same treatment despite how crucial it was. However, the best animation in the War Arc was episode 322, when Madara Uchiha is reincarnated as an Edo Tensei. Movie quality animation, minus a few glitches, as well as movie quality art. And the Final Battle between Naruto and Sasuke in Final Arc is nothing short of Magnificent.
  • Basically any work where ufotable is involved. Its TYPE-MOON productions are probably the greatest examples as they provide the Moment of Awesome and the Awesome Music to go with the stunning visuals.
    • The Garden of Sinners has some amazing fight sequences, pretty much all of Shiki's battles fall under this category, with special mention going to her psychic power animation filled clash with Asagami Fujino, her high paced and dizzying battle with Araya Souren, and her knife fight against Lio Shirazumi. Even some of their non battle scenes, such as the falling snow filled epilogue were truly beautiful.
    • Their next foray, Fate/Zero, was even more amazing with its battle sequences, the five way, Noble Phantasm powered, clash at the docks being only the tip of the iceberg. The entirety of the dogfight sequence between a F-16 riding Berserker and a Vajra riding Archer was amazingly done, but probably the most powerful was Rider and the Ionian Hetaroi's final charge against Archer and Ea near the end of the series.
    • And somehow their next Type-Moon project, Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] was even more amazing. Episode 3 was a masterpiece.
    • Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel proceeds to top Unlimited Blade Works in every single movie in the trilogy, sending the mainline Fate/Stay Night series off with their most stunning animation to date.
  • One Piece on some occasions. Luffy's Dynamic Entry kick on Hody shows exactly what Toei Animation is capable of when they're not cutting corners.
  • Every movie that came out of Studio Ghibli. EVERY. SINGLE. MOVIE.
  • The 2011 Hunter × Hunter by Madhouse is astounding. All one needs to do is watch the fight between Gon and Hisoka in heaven's arena to realize that the animation is on par with most big-budget anime films. Later on, Kurapika vs Uvogin gets movie-level animation.
  • K was highly acclaimed overall, with much of the praise given to the extremely high quality of the art; the animation was done beautifully, the special effects are top-notch, and the combination of vibrant color effects and Scenery Porn are so fantastically done, it's almost surreal.
  • The 2013 anime adaptation of Attack on Titan. Special mention must go to the Three-Dimensional Maneuver Gear sequences, which turn the human characters into what can only be described as Spider-Man on steroids.
  • The witch labyrinths in the original Puella Magi Madoka Magica were really fascinating and creepy and beautiful, but they took it up to eleven and beyond for Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. Almost the entire film is done in labyrinth style, and regardless of what you think of the movie itself there's no denying it's gorgeous.
  • One-Punch Man: The anime, particularly in the fight scenes, is praised for being downright gorgeous to look at, with many seeing it equalling (and in some instances, to some people, surpassing) ufotable levels of quality. Making it all the more impressive, however, is that it's being done on the usual budget for an anime - it's all, aside from having some of the best animators in the industry working on the anime, the passion for the original work that these animators have for it, working their best on an average budget.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • The Super Saiyan God ritual. It puts the movie version to shame.
    • Freeza blowing up the Earth, combined with the music is a chilling combination of horrifying and breathtakingly awesome.
    • The double auras for the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan/Kaioken combo is amazing. Instead of merging the auras to create a purple hue like many expected, the red aura of the Kaioken is stacked onto the blue godly aura of Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan, creating an effect not seen in the entire franchise. The epic Kamehameha that Goku uses on Hit while using this combination is also a sight.
  • Every Single Episode of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The manga is a long running seminal classic that has had artwork from it featured in the Louvre, so the Anime had a hell of a reputation to live up to. Part of the reason it took so long to get a proper animated adaptation off the ground was that the technology wasn't good enough to properly do justice to the colorful, campy, Hot-Blooded and larger-than-life series. Then along comes 2012 and a proper anime adaptation finally gets going, and the animation is every bit as good as the series deserved. The Openings alone are masterworks from both a Technical and Artistic standpoint.
    • The OVA adaptations of Stardust Crusaders from 1993 and 2000 are no slouches, either; while both took liberties with the story, from a purely visual and technical standpoint, the two look incredible and feature some of the most impressive animation from their respective eras.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, while not quite at the level of Ufotable's Fate adaptations in an average episode, there are still plenty of scenes with beautiful visuals and outstanding animation. Episode 19 was so impressive that it set the anime fandom aflame and interest in the show exploded. Mostly for this scene, but with plenty more in the episode beyond it.
  • The Black Clover anime has a notably Troubled Production, even for a weekly anime. But that hasn't stopped episodes featuring major fights from having downright spectacular animation, such as Yami vs. Licht, Asta vs. Ladros, Yuno vs. Rill, Julius vs. Licht, and Noelle vs. Kivn. The most widely praised one thus far has been Asta & Yuno vs. Licht, with its episode considered by many fans to be the best of them all.
  • CGI in anime have a less than stellar reputation with a long list of hideous results. Of course, this makes the exceptions stand out all the more with shows such as the 2012 Black★Rock Shooter anime adaptation being an absolute feast for the eyes with its incredibly well animated CGI fight scenes being seen as one of the shows highlights.

     Music video 
  • The mechanical dogs in Greyhound by Swedish House Mafia look damn sweet for what's basically a glorified commercial early into The New '10s. Moreover, they're move in a fluid, nearly hypnotic motion.

  • Every. Single. Cirque du Soleil. Show. Ever.
  • Many huge spectacle musicals of The '80s and early 1990s feature magnificent live theatrical effects. From The Phantom of the Opera's falling chandelier to the helicopter from Miss Saigon, it's all very very cool.
  • The mother of all stage effects spectaculars has to be Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular. Fifteen life-sized animatronic and puppeteered dinosaurs, including a Tyrannosaurus and her baby, a Stegosaurus, a very large Brachiosaurus and a flying Ornithocheirus invade a stadium or arena, move around, roar and interact with a time-travelling narrator. Have a look for yourself.
  • The West End musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory brought out almost every theatrical trick there is to delight kids of all ages. Not counting the Costume Porn that allowed Violet to bloat into a blueberry and full-sized actors to portray the little Oompa-Loompas, there's such high-tech Spectacle as film projections that turned the stage into a twisting maze of corridors, the syncing of multiple TV screen images with live performers in the Department of the Future (where Mike Teavee gets his comeuppance), and a Great Glass Elevator that rose into a starlit sky and actually "flew" over the first few rows of the stalls. But the low-tech tricks/illusions were audience favorites thanks to the element of surprise and the flair with which they're executed: Charlie sending a paper airplane flying right up to the balcony, Willy Wonka's stunning Instant Costume Change when he first emerged from the front door of his factory, the sudden appearance of a butterfly perched upon his walking stick, and his vanishing into thin air in the final seconds of the show. The Broadway production, alas, was a severe Retool that dropped the bulk of these effects and their accompanying Scenery Porn, and lasted only 9 months as opposed to its West End counterpart's 3 and 1/2 years — and that's the version subsequent stagings are modeled upon.
  • Wicked has "Defying Gravity". You'll really have to convince yourself Elphaba isn't actually flying.
  • La Légende du Roi Arthur has beautiful projected backgrounds throughout the show, opening with a dragon and a giant that forms from the earth to discus what must be done now that Uther Pendragon is dead. And the puppetry with the horses and the statue of Morganne and Arthur's mother that holds her and levitates while she's having a nightmare. But special mention goes to Merlin going into the next world, leaving his cloak behind Obi-wan style and disolving into a flock of blackbirds.
  • When watching War Horse, you will forget that the horses are puppets. And that's before the first tank shows up...

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal Studios
    • Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights has quite a few scenes and effects that seem far beyond the capabilities of a theme park trying to fit everything into a single, small building. Some examples from 2011:
      • Saws n' Steam: Into the Machine includes a full waterfall inside the queue of the Jaws ride.
      • The In-Between uses special paint and 3D glasses to give the impression of having walked into another dimension that violates all laws of physics and perspective, including a near-invisible floor (giving the impression of walking on fog) and a room full of lasers reflecting and refracting off of glass walls.
      • Winter's Night and The Thing both have falling snow indoors, and Winter's Night manages to create actual frost on props in Florida.
      • Acid Assault using 3D projections to make it look like the buildings on New York street are collapsing.
    • Universal Studios Tour's new King Kong 3D experience, where Kong saves the tram from a bunch of hungry T. rexes... after they drool all over the passengers!
    • The entirety of Transformers: The Ride, due to being animated by Industrial Light & Magic, but special mention goes to a mixture of great 3D, heat, and pyrotechnics to make it genuinely feel like there's a heat-seeking missile heading right for your car.
    • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man starts with making it feel like Spider-Man is jumping onto the hood of your car (complete with the car actually dipping down at the front) and just keeps getting better from there.
  • Disney Theme Parks
    • At Disneyland and Disney World, the mist screen projections in Fantasmic! were definitely this when it first premiered, although don't have quite the impact these days due to Technology Marches On. However the new version of the show in Tokyo, along with World of Color, use an updated, high definition version of the same system that is flat-out breathtaking.
    • And now Disney Dreams at the Paris resort, which has combined the mist screens with projections on the castlenote  and Disney's trademark fireworks of awesome.
    • ILM's contributions in Star Tours and Captain EO should all warrant mentions. C-3PO is possibly one of the best animatronics at Disneyland — and not just because he was already a robot.
    • While a good number of effects go into a typical attraction at the Disney Theme Parks, special mention has to go the Haunted Mansion's including a disappearing ceiling in the Stretching Room and the Ghost Ball Room sequences, which are some 60 year old effects that still look real today.
      • After Special Effects Failure caused the Hatbox Ghost to be removed before the ride even opened, they actually got the illusion to work when he returned in 2015.
    • Tokyo DisneySea's version of the Tower of Terror is as remarkable as all of her sisters, but one of the simplest yet most jaw-dropping effects in the whole ride is the evil idol Shiriki Utundu vanishing in literally faster than you can say his name.
    • The Yeti at Expedition Everest is a technical marvel on him own, but when unforeseen technical difficulties forced them to shut down his movement mode, they fixed it with one of the simplest tricks in the book: a flashing strobe light aimed at the stationary figure. Low-tech? Oh yeah, and yet to this day, the "Disco Yeti" still fools enough people that every month or so an excited parkgoer will post on Twitter "The yeti is moving again!" even though he's been immobile for more than a decade.
    • The "portable hole" scene ending Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, for being nigh-entirely seamless. In short: Your car approaching a dead end, Roger holds a massive "portable hole" a couple feet away from the wall, to save you. After he stretches his arm and sticks it to the wall (cool in itself), your car drives straight through, and towards the end title (and unload dock). Spoil the illusion
    • The Hondo animatronic in the pre-flight briefing for Smuggler's Run located at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is often mistaken for a costumed cast member due to how realistic and fluid its movements are.

  • Any time Bec shows up in Homestuck.
    • The Grand Finale, "[S] Act 7" completely blows every other animation in the comic out of the water in this department, as it sees Hussie completely abandon Flash animation and create a full-on, absolutely beautiful nine minute anime segment to wrap up the comic. Word of God says that storyboarding and animation for the segment took four years of on-and-off work.

    Western Animation 
  • Pick a Puppetoon. Any Puppetoon. Its a series of puppet cartoons that take exaggerated cartoon principles and applies them to stop motion, all pulled off with thousands of puppets carved out of wood and animated straight ahead! Unlike other stop motion films, they usually eschewed articulated limbs used in films like King Kong (barring small amounts of articulation in the rubber limbs or in certain shorts with more naturalistic designs like "John Henry"), George Pal developed his own unique method; each individual movement or expression of a puppet, be it a walk, pose or expression change, required either a new part or an entirely new puppet to be made altogether for the film. As such, a single Puppetoon required thousands of painstakingly crafted, custom made models for each scene, and forced the films to be made on a painstakingly sporadic release schedule. But as a benefit to this expensive, time consuming process, the Puppetoons achieved a cartoon like motion that would have been difficult or flat out impossible to achieve with standard stop motion effects, such as broad Squash and Stretch effects, and this allows the characters to move very expressively and with vigor and vitality, and in very creative, funny ways. Shorts like "Philips Cavalcade" and "Mr. Strauss Takes A Walk" really get to show off the series technical prowess.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars is beautifully animated, with very expressive faces, smooth movements, visually appealing character designs, beautiful art style, and downright gorgeous action sequences. The animation quality of the pilot film and the first season was debatable (especially with the early production episodes), but it was still decent for an all-CGI program. As The Clone Wars progressed, the animation quality improved and the characters moved more naturally. Even in the early episodes, the action scenes were impressive and the environments very detailed (including some extras most wouldn't notice on the first watchthrough of an episode), and by the second season and onwards, the animation quality and of detail were very visually appealing and near-cinematic.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender...just, all of it. Particularly stunning examples include 'The Siege of the North' and the series finale 'Avatar Aang'. Here we see the pure might of the Avatar and his elemental powers, and it is awesome. Also in the final, is the final Agni Kai between Princess Azula and Prince Zuko, with two highly skilled firebenders supercharged a hundred times by Sozin's Comet and Azula's signature blue flames clashing with Zuko's orange, making for one of the most visually stunning fight sequences ever animated.
    • Another favorite is the multicolored dragonfire from "The Firebending Masters" that demonstrates the true nature of firebending to both the characters and the audience.
  • The Legend of Korra uses very dynamic "camera" angles and effects. A great example (but still really just a drop in an ocean) is the scene in episode three when Korra uses fluid, circular dancing motions to get through a spinning maze used for airbending practice.
    • The scene in Episode 1 where Korra is riding on Naga through the snow is almost heartbreakingly beautiful.
    • The hand-drawn animation is so good it is almost movie quality.
    • They seemed to have stepped it up for Book 2, if that's even possible. Look at the trailer. Just... Look. At. It.
  • She-Ra's Transformation Sequence in She-Ra: Princess of Power. For an otherwise totally low-budget show, this is a true moment of brilliance. Worth seeing Once an Episode.
  • Thomas & Friends had absolutely spectacular model work. The people and animal miniatures were the only tells that those weren't real trains. Sadly, from the eighth season onward, things became less and less realistic. Eventually the models were retired in favour of CGI. But this is not the side for that. The model sets were stunning, absolute masterpieces. The engines carried onboard smoke machines that puffed like a real locomotive, the couplings and buffers worked, the buildings and scenery looked like they were plucked from real life. "Nil Unquam Simile" indeed.
    • Granted the CGI seasons aren't to be sniffed at visual wise either, especially the later ones animated by Jam Filled Entertainmentnote , which cram in tons of visual gags and amp up on detail to scenery, texture and lighting effects, trying almost as hard as the model series to emulate the look and ambience of an actual real life railway.
  • While Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go received severe backlash over pretty much everything, the series is shockingly well-produced when it comes to the visuals. Not only are the characters very expressive, the series is animated using a higher framerate than most modern anime installments, rivaling Amphibia and the Ducktales reboot in fluidity.
  • In 1994, one year before Pixar brought Toy Story to the big screen, a little Canadian company by the name of Mainframe Entertainment brought CG to the TV screen with the fully CG animated ReBoot. Cartoons haven't been the same since.
    • Same with Mainframe's second effort Beast Wars.
      • Beast Wars deserves elaboration. At the beginning of the show, the animation is a bit rough, with limbs clipping through joints and a limited number of locales with not-too-impressive rendering. By the end of season 2, these hiccups have been ironed out entirely and have been supplanted with beautiful, detailed character designs, surprisingly great fluid effects, and excellent character animation.
  • Any Fleischer Studios short that features their so-called "tabletop" process. The effect is obviously dated now, but for its time it was considered revolutionary.
  • In the Fall of Gravity, an 11-minute stop motion short whose smooth animation rivals today's advances in CGI.
  • Futurama. Watch the episode "The Late Phillip J. Fry", especially the segment in which Fry, the Professor, and Bender watch the universe destroy and recreate itself.
  • Transformers: Prime. The faces may (and do) feel goofy at first, but after a few episodes you will quickly forget that fact. They have to keep the cast low due to the CGI and budget. But despite this have managed to impress and terrify a new generation of fans.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is one of the most beautiful Flash-animated products ever, because most of the time, it doesn't really seem like Flash animation. Very few if any shortcuts are used and some things that some consider to be impossible to pull off in Flash are pulled off beautifully. The second season episodes look particularly dazzling.
    • Scenes that deserve special mention are Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor's love spell, the underground cave Queen Chrysalis traps Twilight in, the pegasus-powered water tornado in "Hurricane Fluttershy", Twilight's transformation sequence in "Magical Mystery Cure", Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon in "Princess Twilight Sparkle" and the shot of the Cutie Mark Crusaders running against a sunset backdrop in "Flight to the Finish".
    • There are also many instances where the possibilities of Flash are used very cleverly. For instance, populating backgrounds with more or less randomly-generated ponies rather than using Faceless Masses.
      • Not to mention that these background ponies aren't just standing motionless in the background either. Looking closely in the background one can see them blinking, shifting and moving slightly, and talking to eachother.
    • And if what we have seen of season 4 so far is any indication, the animation quality is set to just keep improving. A particularly noticable change between seasons is that now, when there are close shots of characters, the backgrounds actually have Depth of Field!. We had seen depth of field tricks occasionally beforehand (Usually shifting depth of field from foreground to background), but now it seems to have become the norm for closeup shots.
    • With the Season 4 Finale, let's just say it's obvious where a fair chunk of Season 4's budget went — the Tirek battle.
  • If one had to single out the sole favorable aspect of the so-so Hero Factory animated show, then it would probably be the CGI. Sure the backgrounds can seem a bit empty, and early crowd scenes offered some interesting sights (like Von Ness, a character that canonically didn't exist anymore appearing suddenly), but they're ironing these out with every new episode. And they have plenty of time for improving, seeing as there are only a couple of episodes released every year.
  • Motorcity; full of both Scenery Gorn and Scenery Porn.
  • The Disney short Get a Horse!. Both the 2D and CG animation is some of Disney's best in recent years and the seamless transitions between both mediums is just mind-blowing and the move and act just like a late-1920s character would. The best way to see it is in a theater with 3D glasses on; you'd swear that Mickey Mouse was really right in front of you.
  • Both Wakfu and its prequel spinoff Dofus have absolutely GORGEOUS animation. With a fantastic combination of well animated Adobe Flash, traditional animation, and fantastic CG for a television show, this is one of Ankama's greatest feats.
    • Season 2 of Wakfu took it to the next level, especially with Yugo and the rest of the Eliatrope kids (that's right, ALL of them) attacked Qilby.
    • The 3 part OVA for Wakfu somehow ups the ante, ESPECIALLY with the third OVA, with gorgeous, fluid traditional animation, especially for Yugo and Grovy (as the Iop God)'s fight against Ogrest and the 6 Primordial Dofus Dragons.
  • Beware the Batman: Despite the mixed reactions to the overall look of the show, even the detractors agree that the action scenes on the whole look quite excellent. The hand-to-hand fight sequences in particular are impressively choreographed.
    • According to some, Metamorpho's design as a whole qualifies for this trope. The scenes where he turns into water and mist are especially well-done.
    • Cypher's sleek, eerie visual design is very popular.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball is hands down one of the most beautiful looking cartoons on TV. Characters are animated differently using 2D, 3D, Papercraft, Pixel Art, Claymation, and CGI. Even the sprites in "The Words". All of it using real life places for the backgrounds, and as of Season 3, the backgrounds move.
  • The Book of Life: Gutierrez expressed clear direction to his team that every single thing seen on-screen should look like the concept art from an "Art Of" book! The result is something truly spectacular-looking and unusual in any CGI film before it, most seen in the Land Of The Remembered environments.
  • Steven Universe is one of the prettiest shows Cartoon Network, or anyone else really, has put out on TV lately. The colors are gorgeous, and each character in the show has a completely unique design, special mention going to the Fusions and anytime a Gem displays their power, and the inside of the Gem Temple. And check out how Rose Quartz and Lapis Lazuli are animated.
    • Special mention goes to the scenes featuring The Cluster in 'Gem Drill', particularly the final shot of it in a bubble.
    • Another noteworthy scene is Pearl's solo number in "Mr. Greg". Not a single shot in the sequence looks like it was done to skimp out on having to animate something. Long shots are done to highlight the dance choreography by Shleby Rabara, while close ups are filled with detailed animations of Pearl's head movement and facial expressions while she sings the song. The most notable example of the latter is the close up panning shot around her head, where Pearl's head movements have to be animated on top of the actual panning movement of the camera around her.
    • The animation gets a major bump for the episode "Change Your Mind", and just keeps increasing in quality, peaking when Steven reunites with himself before a catatonic White Diamond; this movie-quality, extremely fluid sequence of animation was brought to you by Disney legend James Baxter.
  • Gravity Falls: The claymation in "Little Gift Shop of Horrors." Particularly Mabel diving inside one of the monsters, with the cel animation blending in perfectly.
  • Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure. Beautiful and vivid colors with Scenery Porn and former Disney animators were hired for the animation. It's definitely the best animation Franklin has ever had before they made the jump to CGI.
  • Ben 10: "Destroy All Aliens" has particularly impressive CGI effects, with the Galvanic Mechamorph's fluidity being especially noticeable.
  • The first season of Miraculous Ladybug was produced for $11.5M, more than most Western productions. This has blessed the show with highly-detailed visual design and dynamic battle choreography with expressive animation and particle effects. While the show has had its detractors, none can deny that the fight scenes look fantastic.
  • For its first 15 episodes, Ready Jet Go! had clunky, off-model animationnote . However, starting with "Solar System Bake-off! / Kid-Kart Derby", the animation becomes much more fluid. The animation gets better in every episode since then, almost resembling that of a Pixar movie. The most famous example has to be the musical number in "A Visit to the Planetarium", which is extremely beautiful to look at. The character movements could best be described as Tom and Jerry in CGI.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the most Animesque incarnation of the titular team to date, and nowhere does this show better than in the fight scenes. With fluid movement, popping colors, and incredibly dynamic choreography, every fight scene looks like it came out of Studio TRIGGER and is an absolute joy to watch.

  • It's not part of a movie or a TV show or anything of the sort, but the fifty-foot Giant Spider La Princesse is amazing. Even when she's walking and you can clearly see her operators... The man who made her has made other giant marionettes, some of them in the Unintentional Uncanny Valley, all of them very impressive.
    He creates machines, machines which are both beautiful and crazy, giant animals, strange contraptions which play music, boats which sail across the land, birds from where you can have a drink in a daydream, a world which is both real and dreamlike and which invades cities for beautiful, moving and crazy celebrations.
  • Compiz deserves a mention here - not only did it start a compositing craze that resulted in both GNOME and KDE adding compositing capability to their respective window managers, it's also responsible for causing a massive clean-up of the FOSS graphics stack.
  • The Muse music video Sing for Absolution. Just... all of it. Every second, every frame. Particularly special mention must go to the shot as the spaceship is taking off... Damn, that's one hell of a cityscape.
  • Ever wonder what it'd be like if there were candy in space? Industrial Light And Magic has that covered.
  • The Walt Disney Pictures logo from Pixar movies.
  • The Spider and the Fly's ghosts. Drawn separate from the book, added in Photoshop as a transparent layer with the glow.
  • The Correspondents' music video for "Fear and Delight" makes great use of green-screen trickery and cloning.
  • The 2012 Universal logo, created as a milestone for their 100th anniversary; Amazing CG from Weta Digital, plus Jerry Goldsmith's score, recomposed with an added choir, equals pure awesome.
  • The music video for Nigel Stanford's ''One Hundred Hunters'' perfectly combines stock footage of the early space program and nuclear weapons tests with Nigel himself as an astronaut and orbs found on the moon that follow him back to Earth. The album artwork is seamlessly pasted onto military hardware, and ocean water can be seen cascading off an orb that impacts the ocean.

     Real Life 
  • It's actually quite realistic. (Most of the time, anyway.)
  • Amon Tobin's ISAM Tour features a massive abstract Cube structure that is used as a 3D projection-mapped surface. It is quite possibly the most breathtaking visual setup ever created for a musical concert.
  • Sarah Brightman embarked on her "Symphony" tour in 2008, which junked all the theatrical staging she usually utilizes for holographic technology. The result was a stripped down stage with a hollowed out stage that included a b-stage and 3 gigantic screens for the holograms hovering above it. The holograms are HOLY FUCK awesome. At times it'll appear like she's standing on a hovering platform. During Dust in the Wind, she appears in a fairytale-like forest with fireflies floating around. During certain songs, her and her dancers will be on the hollowed out portion of the stage, while their image is projected on the screen, making it appear as if she's lying on its surface. Thats just the beginning. You could look at this photo, but that wouldn't do it justice.
  • Go to any of the old Gothic Cathedrals. Once you tear your eyes away from the actual statues, stained glass and other noticeable art, look at the lighting. The windows cast light in exactly the right places, almost subconsciously pointing you where to look. Now that's a cool visual effect.
    • Europe is amazing for this, especially to an American as our evangelical protestant tradition generally leaves something lacking in houses of worship.
  • Some of the larger astronomical events like total solar eclipses, meteor storms, auroras and gazing at the Milky Way away from the city. It's during those moments that you realise how vast the universe is, and how much there is out there that is waiting for us to explore and learn. Real Life already has a lot of good visual effects like sunsets and thunderstorms, but there are times when reality decides to treat us to something really special.
  • VOCALOID. CONCERT. It happened. It was projected holograms. There's many moments where you forget that the Vocaloids are holograms of anime characters and start believing that they're real singers. The hair in particular moves beautifully.
    • Gorillaz did similar concerts too. Especially in their 2005 MTV performance.
  • Mount Rainier in Seattle in the middle of the night as a full moon shone down on it. It looked like someone had wrapped the top of the mountain in shining silver.
  • The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Holy crap.
    • Some parts were actually digitally added in real time. They were practically indistinguishable from the live segments unless you had a trained eye or read about it.
  • Trompe l'oeil painting, an ultra-realistic form of painting whose very name means "trick the eye." In one particular case, a monastery was famed for its beautifully decorated dome. For four hundred years, people went to the monastery just to see it. Then someone decided it needed to be cleaned and restored, so they raised ladders into the ceiling. The dome was a trompe l'oeil painting. Best part? The monastery has a flat roof.
  • Rainbows and prisms are light showing off its F/X talents.
  • Looking down at any major city from an airplane's window after dark can be visually spectacular, especially around the holidays.
  • Most stage magicians who specialise in optical illusions are rather good at this trope ... almost by definition, since it's their job to make you think something happened that didn't. David Copperfield is one of those artists who takes this trope up to eleven: google up his flying sequence, or disappearing the Statue of Liberty, for examples of how he makes this work in real life.
  • Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland. Once a year, at sunrise on the winter solstice, the first light of the day shines all the way down the entrance passage to light up the main chamber, to stunningly beautiful effect. It's believed that when it was built, this happened at the exact moment of sunrise (now it happens four minutes after). And it was built, with all the precise engineering required to achieve that, five thousand years ago.
  • The North Korean Arirang Festival has over 30,000 children holding up colored cards (called "card stunt" in the West) that make very pretty pictures which are usually the symbols of North Korea. In a nutshell, pixel art in Real Life
  • The skyline of any big city.
  • Supernovas. Just look at these pictures!
  • Any Pink Floyd (or recent Roger Waters) show, especially The Wall tour and the more recent Us + Them tour.
  • Even though they can be destructive, from a safe distance tornadoes can actually be beautiful. Same goes for other storms.
  • Takeshi Murata's ''Melter 3-D'' uses strobe lights to create an illusion that a spherical sculpture is moving and churning like a giant ball of T-1000 metal.


An American Werewolf in London

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