Importance of Computer Graphics & Animation

By Andrew Dewitt

Updated September 22, 2017

Importance of Computer Graphics & Animation
i Illustration by Andrew DeWitt

Computer graphics and animation have left an undeniable mark on the entertainment industry. Pioneers in the field of CGI have struggled to bring highly detailed realism and beauty to their work. Events, scenes and characters are being brought to life without the use of hokey rubber suits or stilted animatronics. As computer graphics and animation continue to evolve, the limits on what is possible in entertainment continue to dissipate.


One of the first films to utilize computer graphics was "Star Wars" in 1977. A computer-generated line drawing of the canyon on the Death Star was rendered using a basic skeletal line frame. Later movies of the early 1980s such as "Tron" and "The Last Star Fighter" made use of rendered vehicles in motion. Over time, computer animation became more sophisticated. This culminated in 1993 when the film version of "Jurassic Park" hit the big screen proving that commuter-generated effects could hold up to close scrutiny

Advent of Pixar

Pixar is one of the companies that has contributed monumentally to the importance of computer graphics and animation. During CGI's infancy of the mid-1980s, Pixar developed tools that allowed them to later create some of the highest-grossing computer animated feature films of all time. Films such as "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Cars" and "Up" have stunned audiences with their sheer beauty.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

Sci-fi and fantasy films have been greatly altered by the evolution of CGI. Tolkien's "The Lord of The Rings" creatures and locations were made possible through the use of computer-generated effects. The "Star Wars" prequels also made heavy use of CGI to create worlds that would be impossible to make in model or in a studio.

Video Games

Computer graphics have also assisted video games in growing to match and then eclipse almost all forms of popular entertainment in terms of sales. While computer graphics-based games started as primitive dots and lines across the screen, they have evolved into compelling virtual worlds. Games such as "Grand Theft Auto," "Oblivion" and "Fallout 3" have earned record-breaking sales for ensnaring players in impossibly detailed virtual lives.


While these advances in technology have allowed film, television and video game makers to create worlds undreamed of, there are those who worry about it's overuse. Film critics such as Roger Ebert have pointed out the flatness of dialogue given back actors trapped in a world of blue screens. Effects for effects sake have also become a problem for many critics who worry that style is preferred to substance.