Computers and Film

Overview From its humble beginnings in early stop-motion animation, technology has helped create stunning effects in movies and television for decades. Today's movies include computer generated scenery, effects, and even electronically generated "actors." CGI--computer generated imagery--pops up in even the most serious films and television programs. Follow the links below to learn more about computers in the film industry.

General Information Read a definition of CGI here. Read an article about computer special effects at this link. Read the definition of tweening--short for in-betweening, a commonly used animation technique--here. You can read a brief article and watch a Web seminar about Flash Shape Tweening Techniques here

Specific Links Follow the links below to learn more about computers and film.

  • Read about  many aspects of  special effects in movies at this PBS  page and at this link. This page discusses how blue screens are used to create effects.
  • Renderman, Pixar's software for creating rendered images, is used to create animated movies. Read about it at this link. you can also learn more about the Renderman technology at at the Renderman Repository.
  • Download computer generated short films at this link.
  • Industrial Light and Magic has created special effects for dozens of movies. Visit its Web site here.
  • Read about morphing here and check out morphing software at this link.
  • Fizt, the software program used to create the hairs on the monsters in the movie Monsters, Inc., allows animators to create realistic animations of things like hair and clothing. Read a definition and see links to other Fizt pages here.
  • Pixar used 1024 Intel Xeon processors inside of eight new RackSaver BladeRack supercomputing clusters running Pixar's own RenderMan software linked together in a network dubbed the RenderFarm to create Toy Story and other animated features. Read an article about the new RenderFarm here and take a look at a photo of Pixar's RenderFarm here.
  • Watch video clips and hear about how special effects in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were created at this link.

Additional Links How did they do that? Want the details about the special effects in the movie you just watched or the game you just played?  The quintessential Web site about special effects is CGSOCIETY. It's addictive. Interested in going to school to learn how to create special effects? Check out the UCLA Animation Workshop and this list of other schools that offer degree programs in animation or digital effects. Learn more about movies in general at