A Visual Timeline of CGI Characters in Film


Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified film-related topic. These articles will be notified by the Movielinx banner. Movielinx is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with film. This month we investigate characters in film that are not made of flesh and bone, but bits and bytes born from hours of programming. Join us as we discuss CGI characters both good and bad. 

As certain films in the last five decades have blazed trails with their computer-generated special effects, so too have certain films pushed the envelope by featuring computer-generated characters. CGI characters have become a common feature in today’s movies, as they allow filmmakers more flexibility and more creativity than standard actors with costumes and elaborate makeup. In the past 40 years there have been numerous films that have pioneered the technology that is all but taken for granted today. These are films that debuted new techniques and ideas to audiences that had never seen such things before. These films are the trailblazers that made many of our favorite (and most hated) characters possible. 

The following visual timeline is a representation of those films and the characters they created. Some films debuted technologies or techniques for the very first time that were improved or perfected later on. Some films’ CGI characters worked well, making a lasting impression. Others left a sour taste in our mouth. Every CGI character and their respected film will not be on this timeline, but the films and characters that made it are important milestones along the way. Which CGI characters are your favorite, or which do you think are the most important? Comment below and check back later this month as we discuss this in more detail. 

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