By their very definition, influential science fiction films tend to push the limits of visual and visual effects technologies to their fullest. This is a film genre that relies as much on dazzling the eye as on a good story, to attract audiences. Over the decades, generations of filmmakers have been searching for ways to achieve their visions, pursuing the technologies in question.
In fact, filmmaking wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for those ambitious pioneers. Many started filming with no idea how their vision would come true, while others took existing techniques and applied their own twist. Be that as it may, there are many films throughout history that have managed to overcome great obstacles for the benefit of filmmakers and the public.
10 Metropolis (1927)
It is almost impossible to believe that Metropolis It was filmed in 1927, which was almost a hundred years ago. Despite being a silent black and white movie, it is an absolutely stunning image that practically laid the foundation for special effects in science fiction. It is also one of the most stimulating and impressive visual shows ever made.
The movie is best known for Maschinenmensch, a “machine person”, or Android by today’s standards, which is easily compatible with Star Wars’ C-3PO in terms of quality. The film also pioneered the optical effects used to create fields of force and electricity, as well as the Schüfftan process, the predecessor of blue and green screening techniques.
9 King Kong (1933)
The classic 1933 version of King kong It was a huge game changer for the film industry, which is surprising given the time period in question. It would take a few more decades for techniques such as stop motion animation, rear projection and matte paints to become proven tools in the industry.
The proof is in the pudding. While ridiculous by today’s standards, it’s hard not to admire the ambition, scope, and spectacle of what’s on the screen. King kong revolutionized science fiction movies and paved the way for iconic artisans like Ray Harryhausen to advance these technologies with movies like The Beast of 20,000 fathoms.
8 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick was a master at creating atmosphere and surrealism in his films, and 2001: a space odyssey was no exception. At a time when Hollywood was emerging from the ridiculous sci-fi stereotypes of the 1950s, Kubrick decided to try and improve the genre with a thought-provoking smart film.
He set the stage with some of the most dazzling pieces and special effects techniques seen to date. Even today, it is hard not to marvel at the scope of what 2001 was offering, which even outshines many of today’s movies with its artistry. Kubrick used everything from ingenious spinning sets, retro-reflective mats, and slit scan photography to achieve his vision, creating a masterpiece in the process.
7 Star Wars (1977)
Like guerrilla filmmakers of decades past, George Lucas got into Star Wars with all the naive optimism of an ambitious young filmmaker with a bold vision. According to GamesRadar, the movie it was extremely stressful for Lucas, particularly due to the fact that the special effects just weren’t quite up to par with what I had in mind.
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Doubling his budget, Lucas reworked his processes and ended up producing a movie that literally changed Hollywood, possibly saving him from his own demise. Star Wars became the de facto standard for special effects, and its achievements accelerated the development of new techniques, paving the way for later visual effects technologies.
6 Blade Runner (1982)
Steven Spielberg was busy trying to outdo himself, as any daring and daring young filmmaker should. Some of the techniques he developed during filming Close Encounters of the Third Kind it eventually spread throughout the Hollywood system. Fresh off his success with 1979 Alien, Experienced director Ridley Scott used these techniques for his great sci-fi epic, Bounty hunter.
The film has some of the trademarks for special effects during that time period, including matte paints and optical techniques, but Scott was smart in the way he implemented them. A team of 50 was busy creating miniatures, optical composition and motion-controlled “Ice Box” shots to bring the dystopian vision to life. No matter what part of the movie is being watched, it is stunning.
5 TRON (1982)
The original TRON it’s greatly underrated, and that’s a shame, given how much it contributed to breaking new ground in the budding visual effects arena. At the time, special effects were the predominant force in movie making, but TRON It signaled a tidal wave of change that was coming and that would take another decade to fully materialize.
No fewer than four computer graphics companies were hired to work on the images for the film, which included the incredible environments drenched in synthetic waves, light cycle races, and other effects. For the costumes and certain ambient shots, a grueling backlight animation technique was used, requiring dozens of passes per shot. The result was an expensive film to produce, but one that sacrificed profits for the sake of artistic expression and dedication to the craft.
4 The Abyss (1989)
James Cameron struck gold multiple times during the 1980s, while secretly searching for a means to gain his take on the iconic. Terminator 2: doomsday off Earth. While that movie featured some of the most impressive CGI work ever, it owes that success to a previous film in Cameron’s arsenal: The abyss.
Of many ways, The abyss it was a much more groundbreaking (not to mention thorough) movie to shoot. Cameron bet on the authenticity of a movie in which 95% of the story takes place underwater, which made filming exhausting and problematic. However, he was able to experiment with a groundbreaking CGI technique that gave rise to the famous water tentacle scene, which was impressive. The same technique would be used to create the infamous T-1000 a few years later in T2.
3 Jurassic Park (1993)
When Steven Spielberg was ready to create Jurassic Park, CGI technology had become a viable tool for filmmakers. Rather than being used for individual scenes or applications, it could now be used to create entire ecosystems, effectively bringing dinosaurs back from extinction for audiences to marvel at.
Everyone remembers the first time they saw the Brachiosaurus shot near the beginning of the movie, with the heavenly John Williams. Jurassic Park theme in the background. Those old enough to remember seeing it in theaters no doubt remembered hearing the entire audience gasp in unison. However, that was just a taste of things to come. Using a mix of large-scale animatronics and groundbreaking CGI, Spielberg created an adventure film like no other and helped push the technology forward.
two The Matrix (1999)
Many sci-fi fans watch Matrix and think “bullet time”, but that’s a detraction from what the movie actually accomplished. Of many ways, Matrix He closed the 20th century by bowing in humble respect to the filmmakers who had accomplished so much over the previous decades.
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The multi-camera “bullet time” setting was truly revolutionary, but Matrix He was also known for his use of smart digital compositing, 3D modeling, and photogrammetric backgrounds. He also pioneered a technique known as Universal Capture, which could be used to simulate actors using digital surrogates.
1 Avatar (2009)
Visual effects and CGI were nothing new by the time 2008 rolled around, but iconic filmmaker James Cameron was ready to shake them up again with Avatar. 60% of the film was CGI, shot on a blank soundstage with actors in motion capture suits and head cameras, capturing all of their performances, down to the smallest detail.
The end result was a show of wonder and amazement. The indigenous Na’vi culture in the lush and exotic alien world of Pandora was so good that the film absorbed audiences, providing the best kind of escapism from the outside world. While the film itself was mildly criticized for its simplistic plot and gaps, the visuals were enough to bring some viewers to tears.
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