From 'Westworld' to 'A New Hope,' here are 13 early CGI techniques that still stand today

From 'Westworld' to 'A New Hope,' here are 13 early CGI techniques that still stand today ...

Before and after Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Jurassic Park (1993), the field has only grown at an unprecedented rate since. In fact, CGI is at a point now where any instances of bad CGI are jarring, drawing the viewer out of the film, even if only temporarily. Here are 13 films that shaped the film industry.

Vertigo (1958)

The classic film by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart as private investigator John Ferguson, who resigns from the force after developing a fear of heights (acrophobia) and vertigo, was the starting point for many cinematic innovations. Firstly, it was the first film to use computer animation; an 850-lb WWII anti-aircraft targeting computer was used to record animation cels while rotating.

Westworld (1973)

Westworld is a futuristic Western-themed amusement park that contains androids that communicate with adult guests. Tragedy ensues when the androids begin malfunctioning, causing them to track and kill the humans in the park (brilliantly parodied in The Simpsons episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land")

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

The first but fourth Star Wars film to use 3D wireframe graphics (Futureworld was the first film to use 3D graphics). The graphics were used to create the Death Star attack briefing as well as the targeting of the Millennium Falcon's rifles. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is also well-known for the creation of Special Effects (S). Which led to the CGI-heavy Attack of the Clones.

The Black Hole (1977)

The Black Hole, Disney's 1977 science fiction film, is about the crew aboard the USS Palomino that gets sidetracked on their return when they encounter a black hole and a long-lost ship nearby, the USS Cygnus. The film is a popular film among science fiction enthusiasts, although it was not groundbreaking at the time.

Tron (1982)

The first onscreen interaction of CGI character and live action character. The first large use of fully computer generated polygonal animation in a film. The first film to use fully CGI backgrounds, famously inspired by filmmaker Steven Lisberger's fascination with video games following the appearance of Pong.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

As any Trekker will tell you, Genesis isn't the only Bible chapter. It's the Genesis Device, which could transform a barren planet into a lush, liveable one. The first true CGI moment, created by Industrial Light and Magic, switches allegiances from the Rebel Alliance to the Federation.

The Last Starfighter (1984)

The Last Starfighter, a science-fiction epic about Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), who is recruited by an alien defense force to fight in a galactic conflict, was the first film to use computer-generated backgrounds, which represent real world objects, a clear departure from the more traditional use of miniature models (and an estimated saving of half the time and costs).

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

Young Sherlock Holmes is a film about a young Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) and John Watson (Alan Cox) who meet for the first time at a boarding school, where they collaborate to solve a mystery. (The film was based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the script is an original screenplay from Chris Columbus).

Labyrinth (1986)

The 1986 musical fantasy film Labyrinth is a legitimate cult classic, directed by legendary Jim Henson and starring musician David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King. Sara (Jennifer Connelly) tries her hand at rescuing her infant half-brother from the evil hands of the Goblin King. It's the intro that makes you think of the first photorealistic CGI animal on film.

The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron is consistently at the forefront of cinematic technology. The Abyss is his first feature to truly benefit from his pursuit, only to encounter something unexpected in the deepest recesses of the ocean. The water creature in the film is the first instance of photorealistic fluid morphing, and the first film to be rereleased with new CGI.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a third cinematic adventure of everyone's favorite archaeologist, follows Jones (Harrison Ford) as he searches for the Holy Grail alongside his father, Dr. Henry Jones (Sean Connery). No, the CGI is used in one continuous shot, the scene where the villain's face is melting before turning to dust. Three motion-controlled puppet heads in varying decomposition stages, with ILM's Morphing technique blending it all in

Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall, a three-dimensional sci-fi Schwarzenegger classic, isn't the alien prostitute who possesses three huge... tracts of land. In this case, it was used for the skeletal characters behind an X-ray screen in a subway shootout scene. And mo-cap has been used exclusively by actor Andy Serkis ever since.

Backdraft (1991)

Backdraft from director Ron Howard follows Chicago firefighters on the trail of a serial arsonist, making it the logical location to demonstrate photorealistic CGI fires. Those who know the story admit that in reality, fires have smoke conditions that would completely obscure all vision and safety gear that would cover the face of a Baldwin.