7 Classic Movie Tricks That Led To Modern CGI | Movies Insider

7 Classic Movie Tricks That Led To Modern CGI | Movies Insider

Before the widespread use of CGI, filmmakers used surprising in-camera tricks and optical illusions to fool audiences. Early filmmakers like Georges Méliès could add a hidden cut to film a wide array of illusions. Creative composites allowed for an invisible character in 1933’s “The Invisible Man” and for Moses to part the sea in “The Ten Commandments.” Artists literally painted on top of shots to extend sets in “Citizen Kane” and create fantasy worlds in “The Wizard of Oz.” While most of these methods are obsolete today, new technologies like the LED projection used in “The Mandalorian” and the motion-control cameras in 2020’s “The Invisible Man” build off these past methods.

Check out more of Julie Turnock’s writing on cinematic effects:

Thank you to Karl Thiede for sharing “The Wizard of Oz” frames from his collection.
Read more about Fleischer Studios here: https://www.fleischerstudios.com/

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7 Classic Movie Tricks That Led To Modern CGI | Movies Insider


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  1. I expect 50 years from now people will be saying how corny and obvious our CGI is. My dad saw King Kong in 1933. The whole cinema was terrified. They believed Kong was real partly because they had no idea how it was done and because no one had never seen anything like this before. Their brains didn’t compute Kong as an effect but as a character. But it was also because we willingly suspend our disbelief when we go to the movies. I think it’s also because the actors convince us it’s really happening. The worst effects movies are the ones with terrible actors not terrible effects, because a great actor can convince you of anything.

  2. See Kubrick probably did one of the best rear projections that I can think of in 200, but I think he also might have the cheeseist looking rear projection in A Clockwork Orange during the driving scenes.

  3. Today's CGI looks like crap. A shot that is computer-generated will too often not follow the laws of physics and it's really annoying and even ridiculous. A 4000 lbs car will look like a 10 lbs cardboard one when driving down a road, and people will fly off walls at the slightest whim in action shots as if they were made of rubber. I hate modern movies because animators have lost touch with the real world.

  4. I wonder how prevalent these LED Boxes like used in Mandalorian will become? I'm sure there must be some quite steep limitations somewhere, but they seem like an extremely useful tool which is a massive stepup from green screen (the fact that the actors are able to see more of their environment must surely be a boon, although I wonder if it will ruin spontaneity a little since all the camera movements need to be preprogramed

  5. These techniques did not "lead" to modern CGI. Their effects are merely replicated digital BY modern CGI. Not the same thing. For a better video on the origins of modern CGI, "The Pixar Story" is a good place to start.

  6. I think I invented the substitution splice when I was about 7 years old without realizing it already existed. I always wondered how effects like appearance were done, so I always presumed that was how.

  7. The gelatin dead sea parting looked really convincing, especially when I watched it in our tiny old TV. Now I can't unsee the gelatin after watching this video.

  8. The Mandalorian is the future. A dome of LED or OLED etc., but a closed environment with actors. And this worked very well. This is the new way forward and I expect many other studios to copy this idea.