Film

10 movies that changed the Visual Effects industry forever

July 19, 2021
4 min.

From the beginning: What are visual effects in the film industry?

Visual Effects, also known as VFX, refers to all processes that function to create, enhance, or manipulate images and movies beyond the actual live-action shot in film-making, films, or video production.

Visual effects integrate actual footage and Computer-Generated Imagery, known as CGI. There are three main visual effects categories: CGI, Compositing, and Motion Capture. Today, Visual effects are essential for the entertainment industry because they transport the audience into some imaginary, fantastical world by bringing characters, environments, and stories to life.

The top 10 movies with visual effects

We’ll take you through the top 10 movies with visual effects of all time that changed the visual effects industry forever. These films are for visual effects enthusiasts and veterans to remember how their expertise made a difference.

1. Jurassic Park (1993):

The movie “Jurassic Park” was the first to bring CGI dinosaurs to the screen. Before that, most films used stop motion techniques to animate fantasy creatures. But Spielberg, an award-winning film director, wasn’t convinced that stop motion had the screen presence to bring daunting dinosaurs.

So, with the help of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Visual Effects producer Dennis Muren, they created the first-ever, fully animated dinosaurs the world has seen.

The film “Jurassic Park” won 3 Oscars, including Best Effects, Visual Effects, and BAFTA Award, including Best Special Effects, as part of 44 wins and 27 other nominations.

2. The Lord of the Rings Franchise (2001)

The film “The Lord of the Rings” showcases a variety of breakthroughs in CGI and visual effects. For example, the character Gollum is entirely CGI, in which the feel, look, skin textures, and performance achieve an emotional connection with the audience. In addition, many of the locations are digital environments made with digital painting techniques.

So, whenever you watch the film again, pay attention to the mountains, waterfalls, and battle scenes. This fantasy film won 4 Oscars, including Best Effects and Visual Effects and is a BAFTA winner for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects in 2002.

3. Avatar (2009)

Avatar is another excellent film with stunning Visual Effects where VFX students can learn to create emotions with CGI characters in science fiction movies. All the environments were hand-painted to produce realism. James Cameron continuously sets the new standards in Visual Effects.

The film was announced in 1996, but James had to wait until 2009 for Visual Effects Studios to develop to the high-quality standards he wanted into this film. Avatar won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, BAFTA Awards, Best Science Fiction Film and many others in 2010.

4. Inception (2010)

When it comes to Visual Effects, the movie “Inception” carries a name and reputation for itself, as does the Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Franklin. He has over 15 wins and 19 nominations for his VFX work.

There are many iconic scenes in Inception, like the folding street in Paris, buildings growing out of nowhere, or the dream sequence within a dream that is spectacularly done with Visual Effects. Nowhere in the movie does the viewer feel unattached or disinterested in the story.

The VFX of “Inception” is seamless, meaning that the film footage and the CGI artwork are very well done. As a result, this film is considered one of the greatest movies for VFX to learn from. And if you are a professional, this movie is great to have listed on your resume because it will open many doors in your career.

Inception won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 2011 and a BAFTA Award in the same visual effects category.

5. Life of Pi (2012)

The movie “Life of Pi” set new standards for visual effects in creature digital animation. The film features a tiger as part of its main characters, but the tiger is a digital creature. Yet, it demonstrates actual, natural, and characteristic tiger behaviour.

As part of the creation process, it took three months for the filmmakers to observe, study, and analyze real tigers and additional nine months to bring to life the CGI tiger called Richard Parker. As a result, the film “Life of Pi” provokes CGI enthusiasts to question what CGI is and what isn’t.

The film won 4 Oscars, including Best Achievement in Visual Effects and a BAFTA Award Winner for Best Special Visual Effects in 2013.

6. Gravity (2013)

The movie “Gravity” brought a new paradigm shift to the Visual Effects industry. The film entailed much visual research work, and it took about 4.5 years to film and successfully portray the story of two astronauts stuck in outer space. Many NASA pictures were researched and studied for graphic detailing in Visual effects.

Almost 80% of the film has Visual Effects, and the remaining 20% has practical special effects. Gravity is a real treasure to learn the tools and techniques for Visual Effect students.

The movie won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and a BAFTA Award in Best Visual Effects in 2014.

7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

The visual effects are a mixture of motion-capture footage and hand-drawn animation by Weta Digital. As a result, outstanding performances were real and believable for their audience. The CGI character named Caesar made the movie stand out because the animators demonstrated that CGI could portray exceptional intelligence and emotions.

Director Rupert Wyatt made an ethical decision not to use real-life apes and relied on visual effects to create a notable and remarkable film.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was nominated for a BAFTA Award in Best Visual Effects and won Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation in a Live Action Production at the Annie Awards in 2015.

8. Ex Machina (2014)

The film “Ex Machina” received an Oscar from the Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 2016. All the scenes with the CGI character named Ava were filmed twice, once with her and once without her. Her hands and the face of the actress Alicia Vikander are actual footage, but the rest of the body is replaced by stunning visual effects.

So next time you watch the film, pay close attention to the robot’s CGI body.

9. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

The movie “Blade Runner 2049” is one of the best films for VFX. It received an Academy Award for the Best Visual Effects Movies in 2018 due to its outstanding visuals, which almost run for 1 hour and 45 minutes. This film introduces digital doubles, meaning that a real actor has a computer-generated version in the movie.

For example, Rachael is identical to Sean Young from the original Blade Runner, a digital copy.

This digital double caught the attention of VFX fans, producers, and professionals. The movie “Blade Runner 2049” won a BAFTA award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

10.The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2018)

The film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is famous for its visual rejuvenation effects, in which the scenes reverse the age of Brad Pitt. Furthermore, there is no real Brad Pitt actor in the first 52 minutes of the film, and the visual effects trick the audience into believing. This movie is one of the first to use VFX to make a real actor look younger.

In 2009, It won Best Achievement in Visual Effects, a BAFTA award in Best Special Visual Effects, and other 160 nominations.

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