The history of CGI: from movies to marketing.

Let’s take a look at the history of photorealistic computer generated images (CGI), decade by decade to see what a fast-paced environment this has been, and what industries have felt the benefits:


It hasn’t always been the ‘creative’ types who have had the knack of using computer software; the birth of the actual computer (BESM version 4) capable of making the first CGI animations, was built by a Mathematician and PhD Physicist ‘N Konstantinov’ in 1963.

Later in the 60s, Peter Foldes a British Director and animator created short films with animations and became known for the Tweening method, creating the frames inbetween the images to make the animation flow.


Meanwhile, in the early 70s, Nestor Burtnyk and Marceli Wein became the next generation of 2D animators, and this video explains that they didn’t just make the animations, they made the software to enable others to create the moving images.

By the mid 1970s, the film world had started to use these animations to great effect. Futureworld was an American thriller movie – the first major feature film to use 3D CGI for an animated hand and face.


In the 80s, CGI exploded into the film industry which meant it would never be the same again. Star Wars, Superman the movie, Alien and Black Hole all pushed the boundaries of computer graphics, with CGI humans, alien like landscapes and 3D water.


And by the time the 90s arrived, CGI was the norm, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and Toy Story blurred the lines between the real world and fiction, increasing movie budgets and taking audiences to worlds never imaginable before.

Toy Story was a particular success story in itself, being the first fully animated CGI movie to be released.

The 1990s was also the time that computer game graphics hit the big time, with the release of the Playstation in 1994 and the Nintendo 64 in 1996. Super Mario and his brother Luigi were household names overnight.

The noughties

The popularity of CGI allowed for the industry to reach new areas. Computer speeds and software developed during these 5 decades, generating more refined images and building a whole new computer industry – and a new career path for many.

Wired magazine reported in 2013 that:

“Computer-generated images are moving out of theaters and onto store shelves and catalog pages, thanks to software that makes it nearly impossible to distinguish the real from the photorealistic. Encroaching upon what was once the domain of sci-fi filmmakers, product designers have started employing CGI (…) to give their digital models lighting effects that makes them appear to be actual items photographed in a studio or out in the wild.”


Photorealistic CGI is now used across so many industries to great effect. For example, the moving parts of a product, anatomical models (using CT scans to make up a 3D model pre-operation) and to make virtual worlds for the growing demand of Virtual Reality (VR).

As a new generation of photorealistic CGI designers has arrived, the cost of making these images has decreased from the big movie budgets of yesteryear. Today, photorealistic CGI is added to company marketing budgets, to save on photographer costs and speed up the process of products to market.

Another industry which CGI is improving, is the property market. Building Developers have architectural scenes and animations made, where the potential buyer can walk around and into the property. Estate Agents use photorealistic CGI ‘tweaks’ to improve images of houses on the market, to encourage buyers to purchase.

If you are interested in talking to us about how CGI can benefit your business, please call us on 01509 27 61 61 or contact us today.

2018-03-19T20:03:21+00:00 December 10th, 2017|Photorealistic CGI|