CGI Timeline

The use of the PC and other computerized operating system became very influential in the development. In particular the 1960’s was influential in utilizing the computers attributes.


The sketchpad system computer graphics was developed by Ivan Sutherland.



Boeing  a seattle based company created a 3D animation of an aircraft carrier landing, along with drawing by William Fetter and W.Bernhart.


Charles Csuri creates Hummingbird, the first example of computer generated representational animation.



Fred. I Parke created animated faces.


MAGI animated computer rendered polygonal objects. Fred parke created the first ever computer generated facial animation.


Interactive keyframing techniques was introduced with the short film “Hunger/La faim”. This short film was directed by Peter Foldes.


A computer group opens at George Lucas’ industrial light and magic.

The 1980’s was a major decade in which CGI was developed to what it is known as today as computers became more powerful and able to hold high resolution productions.

A number of new companies opened all with a common focus,3D animation.

Wavefront, digital productions and R.Greenbug associates all opened in 1981 throughout America.

The first film with over 20 minutes of animation.

The genesis effect in “star Trek II” was the first fully computer animated visual effects shot. 

In 1983, Bill reeves from Lucasfilms published techniques for modelling particle systems.

Only a year later Porter and Duff, also at lucasfilm published a paper on digital compositing using an alpha channel. This paved the way for effectiveley combining live action and CG imagery.

Also in 1984 the animation studio Pixar opened.

Later in the 1980’s John Lasseter at Pixar published a paper describing traditional animation principles. This was followed for years to come by fellow animators.

In early 1988 “Locomotion” a short film by pacific data images, is an early example of squash and stretch.


Terminator 2 was the first blockbuster film to use multiple morphing effects and simulated natural human motion.

The film “Aladdin” created by Disney was the first film to fully utilize animation as they produced the full character in computer generated images.

The huge hit “Jurrasic Park” was the inagural film film for using kinematics in creating realistic living creatures.

In mid 1990 the wildebeasts stampede in disney’s “The lion King” is a superb intergration of 3D computer animation flocking systems with traditional animation.

In 1995 “Toy Story” was released as the first full CGI film which was the first of its kind to get huge commercial and critical success.

In 1997, Pixars “Geri’s Game,” is modelled with subdivision surfaces, wins animated short films award.

1998 produced some of the best animated films of the decade including Antz and Bug’s Life.

Warner Brothers “iron giant” uses computer animtion to great effect in animating to great effect in the title character.

Throughout 2001 and 2001, Pixar created two short animated films, “For the Birds and “Mike’s New car” from Monster’s Inc. During this time gaming console further improved the reputation of compouter graphics like the Playstation 2, X-Box and gamecube.

In 2002, “Lord of the Rings 2″ created a unique character in Gollum by using a combination of performance capture and keyframe animation. During this year Blue Sky Studios released” Ice Age”


History of CGI

CGI Development

The first believed use of graphics and animation was the thaumatrope . It was invented in the mid 1820’s by John Paris. The device is a disc with images on both sides of the disc.


Following this, the zoetrope, often known as the “Wheel of Life.” The zoetrope was invented in 1834 by William G Horner. Many people.


In the CGI (computer generated imagery) industry believe that the classic thesis by Sutherland in the early 1960’s was the official beginning of computer graphics and animation, in the form that it is known today.The classic thesis by the pioneer Ivan Sutherland was the beginning of computer graphics which was an interactive computer graphics interface, called Sketchpad, demonstrated for the first time the power of computer graphics as a method for controlling and interacting with computers.Simple computer graphics had earlier been created during the fifties to generate simple output displays. However, it was not until Ivan Sutherland developed his original software, that people became aware of the skills and potential of computer graphics.


The potential of the computer to create graphically enhanced productions, was, at first slow to develop. During this era there were three main barriers which often stopped people fully utilizing the powerful development which computers had to offer.The first was the high cost of computing during this time. This appeared in a number of different formats. Firstly the computer graphics which were created, especially if they were interactive, would become large in memory. The cost of this was very high and was hard to catch on and the cost demands couldn’t be met.

The only occasions when these could be justified was when universities and large industrial research laboratories used the computer to aid them with research.The second was the lack of understanding for the intricate controls of generating graphics, due to the then complicated picture generating software, which would be needed for an effective computer graphics system.  

The complex beginning of both systems of software and application was much underestimated. Many of the early graphics achievements were in fact impressive in them selves but rather inadequate when in comparison to the demands of professionally economically sound interactive graphic design applications.Due to many technological innovations, time favoured CGI. Computer equipment continued to drop in price year after year.

Also, during this era, operating systems were improved, and people ability to cope with complex was appearing less and less as the software became more sophisticated. Progress was made in the development of algorithms.

“Algorithms are a definite list of well-defined instructions for completing a task; that given an initial state will proceed through a well-defined series of successive states, eventually terminating in an end-state.The concept of an algorithm originated as a means of recording procedures for solving mathematical problems such as finding the common divisor of two numbers or multiplying two numbers”

Algorithms were successful in generating pictures, especially those which represented the views of 3D objects.Computer graphics entails both hardware and software technology. As with conventional numerical computing, we may have both batch and interactive modes.

In the early days of computer graphics, the main attention of the artists was given to the hardware side of CGI. Due to high performance hardware of the new age of computers, the attention to the hardware is a lot less and has shifted to the software side being a lot more appealing. – Info on history of CGI classis thesis

Cartesian Coordinate System

3D software packages use systems to create the illusion of working in a 3D Space. The software package which is used is called the cartesian co-ordinate system.

Frenchman Rene Descartes, developed the system which is used to create the illusion of working in 3D spaces. He did so in an effort to merge algebra and Euclidean geometry. His work has played an important role in the development of analytic geometry, calculus and cartography.

There are two 2 axes that are commonly used to define the 2 dimensional cartesian system. These are XY and +-. The point where the X and Y axis meet is called the origin, which is labelled O.


The Z axis is important to the cartesian system because as it enables us to locate any point in three-dimensional space.

In the cartesian system, the are points which use the X.Y and Z axis. The point where 59 units along the negative X-axis meets is -59, 100 units along the positive y axis is 100 and 50 units along the negative Z-axis is -50.


There are also key parts to the system, which is the viewports. these are influential because it allows us to work from all of the angles, as They show a different set of axis.


The orthographic view is that which allows you to display 2 axes at the same time.

Comparison between 3D pipeline and game pipeline

Comparison between 3d pipeline and games pipeline-

  • Once the basic game concept is decided upon, writers and artists work together on a storyboard. A storyboard consists of rough sketches and technical instructions sequentially organized to depict each scene of the game. It is a visual representation of the story. A video game can have thousands of outcomes.
  • Therefore various levels, or “worlds,” of the game must be sketched out.
  • As the storyboard is made, designers begin to create the characters. Rough sketches of major characters are drawn and redrawn until they are perfect. It’s important for the artists to refine the characters as much as possible at this stage because it will be difficult to make changes later.
  • Once the character design is finalized, it’s time to transform the sketches into controllable 3D characters.
  • Play Video
  • This can take up to 5 days per character expression.

  • The sketches are first scanned into the computer.
  • Then, a digital “exoskeleton” is created to define the character’s shape and to give the computer the control points necessary to animate the figure.
  • The game programmers bring this figure to life by instructing the computer to move the character. Several techniques can be used to do this, depending on the type of game and motion desired. In some games, the motions of a human actor are captured using a special suit of sensors to represent the control points of the character’s skeleton. These movements then can be mapped onto the character’s skeleton to produce ultra-realistic motion.
  • One of the most important aspects of modern game creation is the environment. Reflections in shiny surfaces and varied cloud patterns often go unnoticed by players, but they help create a much more natural environment.
  • The majority of 3-D objects created for computer games are made up of polygons. A polygon is an area defined by lines. Each polygon has a set of vertices to define its shape, and it needs information that tells it what to look like.
  • This allows games to have incredibly detailed 3-D environments that you can interact with in real time.
  • Unseen to the user, but making all of the game elements work together, is the code. Code is the set of computer language instructions that controls every aspect of the game. Most games are written with the C programming language.
  • A 3-D code engine is almost always used to generate the incredibly complex code necessary for all of the polygons, shadows and textures the user sees on the screen.
  • Once the game is complete, it enters the postproduction phase. This phase includes extensive testing, review, marketing and finally, distribution.