The influence of Computer-Graphic Imagery on Films | Assignment Collections |



The film industry has been advancing and shifting in a way that even actors can now be replaced with animated cartoons or robots to respect people in films. Currently, artificial sceneries are becoming hard to differentiate from the real places. Computer animation and graphics have substantially affected the film production operations worldwide and proved to be a critical source that enhance and create realistic sound and images resembling real environment. Due to its flexibility, many audiences are now fascinated with and interested in scientific movies, and similar genres which substantially utilize computer animation and graphics. The emergence of computer has also risen demand for many online and digitized platforms for films. This research study focuses on the impact that Hollywood has on the film industry in general by leading technological change. The paper will mainly trace the development of animation and computer graphics and its future prospects. Currently, Hollywood industry has been more appealing to most United Kingdom audience making the industry more competitive.

Keywords: Time-Space Compression, Poster modernism and Modernism, CGI, Digital effects, Visual Effects, and Special Effects



Today, films employ computer graphics imagery to design special effects to replace puppet like characters, stunt people, and thousands of extras, as seen in the Lord of the Rings. The transformation of computer technology and special effects has taken the industry to a higher level. Due to the advancement in technology, filmmaking industry has also advanced a lot affecting how audiences view films (Dong, et al., 2022 p.57). Currently, computer graphics (CG) is regarded as the most crucial tool of communication, which film producers and directors can depend on to communicate their imaginations and dream effectively (Dong, et al., 2022 p.58). Computer graphics modeling for virtual reality, animation, and image synthesis has dramatically advanced over the past decade, disrupting the multimedia, interactive game, and motion picture industries (Allen, 2013 p.28. The computer graphics field has rapidly changed from first generation, geometric frameworks to a more defined physics-based frameworks (Allen, 2003). The new technology can animate and simulate physical real world objects with great realism. New computer graphic frameworks have taken wide steps toward the pragmatic imitation of diverse living things such as animals and plants from lower organisms to humans. Normally, these graphic models assume complex forms and occupy virtual worlds in which they obey the laws of physics (Acland, 2013). As a result, they always integrate state-of-the art physics and geometric based modeling methods. But more importantly, these graphic models should also simulate other natural processes that distinctively typify and define living systems, such as intelligence, learning, adaptive behavior, manipulation, locomotion, perception, evolution, natural selection, growth and development, birth and death (Acland, 2013). Similarly, realism involves portraying life as it is accorded to us. It involves taking what is inferred or considered reality and transcribing or transposing into artistic medium, including film, photography and writing (Bolter & Grusin, 2000 p.33). Realism in filmmaking depends on both visual and narrative realism—meaning the story should be based on reality and computer graphics should match. Thus, advancement in technology has played a crucial role. Thus, rapid advancement in technology is readily available for animating and modelling objects realistically that are alive.


Computer graphics imagery have now contributed substantially to the film projects and captured the world recognition with successful and widely accepted films including Avengers, Black Panther, Lion King, Kungu Fu Panda, and Avatar (Bolter & Grusin, 2000 p.34). The use of current technology such as graphics and 3D animation has attracted a large number of audiences, ranging from children, adolescents, young adults to senior citizens, to the arena and cinema. Unlike present fine examples, such as viewing the special effects in the 1st Jaws movie, early computer graphics imagery was cringe-worthy (Shim, 2003 p.109).


Jaws Movie led to the blockbuster, defined the summer film season, transformed how             studios approached films, and allowed Spielberg” to change the movie industry”


However, traditional methods such as stop-motion had changed into 2D and 3D- cel-based imagery and animations, and attracted fans everywhere, including children and adults. Also, animations grappled to compete with blockbusters gorged with attractive A-listers (Geraghty, 2005 p.556).  A hit with children and adults, The Nightmare by Tim Burton was a great breakthrough and a quantum leap for looked set and stop-motion to disrupt the audience viewership. However, that was momentary. After two years in 1995, Toy Story was released by Pixar (Diffrient, 2001 p.879). Toy Story was considered the first full-length computer-graphics image movie made, and all things changed upon the release of Toy Story. Most film-makers ditched stop-motion techniques for computer graphics image. Computer graphic imagery was money-saving and time-saving with stunning and attractive effects, thus was too good to disregard. However, stop-motion was still favored with animators including Aardman, Chicken Run, and Gromit and Wallace. They only created their first CGI movie in 2006, known as Flushed, after realizing CGI is more lucrative and disruptive (Chun, & Lee, 2006). Further, the last two decades has experienced computer graphic imagery move from strength to strength, delighting both children and adults (Allen, 2013). CGI has been dominating films and transforming the cinema world, and is one of the most discussed new technologies today. This one boils down to one reason, people are willing and ready to pay be entertained. Audience know how good computer graphics imagery is when is crafted well, though at the center always ought to be a great storyline (Xie et al., 2019 p.672). This include believable characters to despise, empathize with and relate to. According to human nature, people are always looking for more and better, and CGI has peaked to offer better films (Xie et al., 2019 p.679). Dissimilar to technologies which have existed and extinct in its life time, CGI is advancing all the time. For example, the disruptive techniques and technologies employed for the Disney Moana film that stretched the boundaries and limits of what was possible.




This paper will develop three main themes:

  • An investigation of the cinematic special effects history. It will focus on the special effects technological development from trick films to computer-graphical imagery effects, in the aspects the reality effect history. This paper will emphasis the history of film by focusing on how the special effects have more naturalism. Reality effect naturalism means indiscernibleness from live-action with the support of revolutionary artificial technology.
  • A discourse of the realist film theories response to the special effects development, from classic realism to the theories of new media in accordance to the transformation from modernity to postmodernity. The paper will depict that Kracauer and Bazin’s theories fail to discuss the special effects in this postmodernity era but mainly those in modernity effect. However, the paper, will posit that digital theories of Stephen Prince, Pierson, Bukatman, Manovich provide alternative realism explanation in the postmodernism period.
  • The paper will also focus on sci-fiction films in global context. This will entail the textual analysis of United Kingdom special effects-angled films in an international context.

This paper will argue that the change from modernity to postmodernity is speed up by technology and digital effects. The aesthetics and the film industry of United Kingdom are changing rapidly in the postmodernist globalized environment through digital technology development. The transition of reality effect in the postmodernity era will be investigated, and it will be demonstrated that transition depicts the socio-cultural realities of United Kingdom today.

It has been observed that the media has progressed with digital advancements and reach many people. The process of direct transmission of written, auditory, and visual information from diverse sources to the less active communities as the mass media subject, human communities can easily access such information only from one source because of the fast technological convergence (Haugstvedt & Krogstie, 2012 p.42). The connectedness that the digital media tools have established in communication and interaction with people has enabled the visuals created with digital tools to fast find place in the film space and be acknowledged by the consumer. Digitization plays an active role in using computer-graphic imagery technology in production of motion picture as a leading factor in the visual culture continuity as the dynamite component of the technology world. In 1990s, when tools of electronic communication advanced rapidly, it has been observed that digital technology has have an impact on all spheres of life (Dong et al., 2022 p.998). Whereas digital technology has transformed mass media, it has led to an increase in number of channels because of using digital technology in visual media (Danesi, 2014 p.875). Digital media industry, a leading audio and visual sector globally, has become a crucial actor of social life among the audience with digital platforms, commercial applications, internet, cinema, and television (Danesi, 2014 p.896). In addition, with software technologies, film animation has transformed and the industry has advanced substantially. Computer-graphic technology coupled with digital development, has found a space in diverse sectors including film-making, entertainment, media and advanced technology as well as television broadcasting, particularly cartoons, sports, competition, and news (Haugstvedt & Krogstie, 2012 p.721). It is evident that the visual aesthetics created by the application of computer-graphic imagery technology in films programs have transformed into a sort of moving and dynamic graphic components instead of the technique of stationary photographic components that underpins realism (Lister, 2013 p.108). Therefore, the priorities triggered by the innovative and creative nature of the graphic technologies, which transform every year and demonstrate development acceleration, have unraveled need for changing to diverse aesthetic views in the film production.

Computer animations also refer to idea of computer graphic imagery animations. Advanced technologies enabled the development of computer-graphical imagery into a form that can be utilized by users regularly and entail a computer tool that has enough configuration (Lister, 2013). The technology has brought small companies and individual artists to the level where they are capable of producing artistic works, video games, television programs and quality films from home computers. It is well known that the technology that emerged at the start of the system based on the visual production in digital environment is known computer generated imagery. Computer graphic imagery is used actively in creating visuals in television programs, advertisements, movies, video games, media and art (Smith, 2008). Even though the term computer-graphic imagery is dominantly used to mean 3D computer graphics employed to design and create unique scenes and effects in films, it is also applied for 2D computer graphics (Smith, 2008). As such, systems such as computer-graphical imagery animation technology emerged with the potentials of digitization and the sorts of social taste that underpins visuality in the digital culture space that happens globally.

However, the key tragedy that this advancement in technology has built in the human psyche has result into a sort of perception in which distinguishing between the virtual and the real cannot be entirely interpreted. In this change of human perception between the virtual and the real, which has taken over since 1990s, the virtual world is not a substitute of real life, instead a complement to it. Consequently, the virtual world offers users the opportunity to experience neither an entirely virtual created world nor an entirely real world (Coleman, 2011). The most crucial work is to describe this world of pictures and images designed by computer-graphic imagery technology on the bases of theoretical grounds, Jean Baudrillard unrivaled through the idea of simulation. He explained the concept of simulation in his research work “Simulation and Simulacries” as: To dissimular (conceal) is to bluff not to have what is owned; to simulate is to bluff to possess something which is not. The first entail having an entity (which is absent). Nonetheless, such an event is more complex than it appears to be. Simulating is not bluffing to be “feindre” or obscuring (not being present at the moment) and cannot contradict the concept of dissimular reality. Similarly, there is often a clear cut contrast between them and factual that is aimed to be concealed. Nonetheless, the simulation attempts to get rid of the difference between “false” and “reality” and “imaginary” and “reality” (Baudrillard, 2013). Simulation attempts to echo the experience of the real world. It entails frameworks based on physics and mathematics. The system behaviors in a given period are transmitted by duplicating one-to-one, in an extended or compressed period (Thalmann, Palamidese & Hegron, 1989). Contrastingly, simulation attempts to mirror the dynamic science or natural action and its effects in the closest or exact reality. Consequently, it is in the group with the highest reliability and accuracy. Comparing the results of an object or real action with the simulations results, realistic and reliable results must be attained. Parker (2012) affirms that a lot of what passes for evaluation of simulation model lacks structure and rigor since it:

“entails in little more than comparison of observational data and simulation data, with no or little explicit argumentation about what these comparisons imply about the ability of the model to offer evidence for particular scientific hypotheses”

Computer-graphic plays a crucial role among the film industry audience and it is difficult to find a film that does not integrate it one way or another. It is an incredibly and resourcefully diverse tool which can be utilized for advancement in film industry from scenic backdrops to giant robots (Haugstvedt & Krogstie, 2012). Still practical effects play a critical role in film production. Most directors of films construct realistic effects without touching on computer-graphic imagery. Keeping this in mind, computer—graphic imagery has displaced various practical effects since it is practical. CGI gadgets and backgrounds, and many more things are that are simple to design, but that relies on the quality level the film directors want to attain, including the scene scope (He et al., 2018). It will be hard to create alien cities and lava fight scene from Revenge by use of standard effects (He et al., 2018). Film production can choose and pick where to apply computer generated effects and practical ones based on the needs and nature of the scene. Again, Computer-graphic imagery is used alongside with other technologies and tools to design more realistic representations or depictions. This encourages flexibility and clarity making the scene realistic.

There has been substantial progress since Hummingbird of Charles Csuri. Rather than short computer-graphic imagery, 90s movies studios moved in with the disruptions (Pauwels, 2010 p.44). They designed and created a film wholly in computer-graphic imagery—resemblance of Toy Story. It is a huge success for graphics, and its attainment could only compel and underpins the studio to persist working with computer generated imagery (Pauwels, 2010 p.89). Pixar pioneers are still building great films that are wholly computer-generated imagery (Faulkner, 2006 p.4251). The effect of achievements was as result of creating successful and enticing film using computer-graphics imagery from scratch.

Whereas animation was often the best way to design and create characters, it was difficult to think that it might actually recreate the real human expressions (Faulkner, 2006). Even with fast-paced computer-graphic imagery, the natural and subtle expressions and movements of a personal face was challenging. It was until Stars Ward and Lords of the Rings launched computer-graphic image motion capture to the film industry (Faulkner, 2006 p.5621). Gollum, the iconic character met other actors in the film, although he was designed with computer-graphic imagery—but not wholly. In addition, Andy Serkis was utilized as a framework for motion capture, which compelled Gollum’s mannerisms and expressions to resemble the actor which was depicting them indirectly. For this step to progress, Avatar emerged. In substantial box office hit of James Cameron, computer-graphic imagery started disruptions of the industry. Motion capture was integrated with facial capture to record facial expressions of the actors to enable them get rendered later.  With its revolutionary computer-graphics imagery, Avatar seized the world with storm. The cinema world was shaken by the fast-paced development of computer-graphic imagery, and the technology opinions ranged from polarized to positive. The negative feedback and reactions are directed toward tasteless and bad use of computer-graphics imagery.

As the technology advances, it becomes more reliable and resourceful than visual effects. In this regard, the increased accessibility will be beneficial. It will never replace settings or real actors, though it will add extra charm and flair to any film if correctly used. Studios such as Pixar may persist to utilize it to design and make films from scratch, and others will utilize it as supplementary technology. What this imply for the future of film industry audience is not certain, though it is likely to become one of the most crucial tools for film directors and producers around the world. Thus, it is important to investigate the influence computer graphics and animations have on the productions of film.


The definitions of animations and computer-graphics are inseparable as they can be referred to as anything that use imagery and typography. Computer graphics refers to the image representation that is produced by computers with specialized and unique graphic software and hardware (Kerlow, 2009 p.40). The art of designing and creating moving images with 3D or 2D is known computer generated imagery or animation.  Salmon (2015 p.782), argued that computer-graphic imagery applications designs scenes with special effects in television and films that cannot be created using a camera. In essence, graphics utilize images including visual representations, diagrams and pictures (Salmon, 2015 p.791), while animations utilizes graphics that advance over time (Crawford, 2009 p.905).  (Salmon, 2015; Crawford, 2009 p.1002) contended that specialized graphic software and hardware are utilized in computers to design computer graphics. Most filmmakers utilize 2D CGI that are simple to manipulate and use, quick at rending and need low bandwidth to operate effectively (Adamson, 2003 p.42).

Animations and computer-graphics imagery are the current key aspect in editing a contemporary film. They have both become great tool which draws viewer’s attention as they demonstrate complex and deep ideas beyond human’s imagination, and therefore have proved to be entertaining and fascinating to all categories of audiences. In United Kingdom, computer-graphic imagery has been used mostly in advertisements and some in films, in which scenes are manipulated with animated illusions, gun shots, and explosions. Animation and computer-graphic in Hollywood is thought to have coined by the creators of Cinematograph, Lumiere brothers. They launched ‘mise – en scene’ and designed unique effects which the audience could relate to easily, for example they could recreate a setting that really exist.

Salmon (2015 p.781), another technique of designing a computer-graphics imagery for movement illusion is to display a picture on the screen, and replace it by a new image quickly that look like the previous picture. Also, Zagreb (2009 p.44), computer graphics is a way of visualizing complex ideas that the footage of a camera cannot handle. The Computer-graphic-animated visuals entail 3D or 2D cartoon, moving characters or scenery based on the filmmaker creativity. Animation and CG in 1980s were mainly utilized in television programs, and commercial adverts (Mutsinze, 2016 p.891).

The camera development that allows the image recording and the celluloid discovery, the fundamental film material to which the camera is perceptive, by Eastman George, led to the advancements of the technological elements for the production and recording of the animation. The first examples of animation in the optical theater resulted in a settled social and cultural demand. The animated films production shaped and framed by this demand has begun to generate sector-based mass production and recording, enabling consumer mass to increase naturally. Upon the end World War II, the electronic equipment designed by NASA for space exploration began to be offered to consumers as advanced technological products and tools of the information era, particularly in the 1960s. Computers were developed as a computing function, which became integral part of everyday life with creative features and parts open to technological advancements. With the powerful efforts of mathematicians and engineers, computers underpins the continuity and progression of the culture sector with its broad range of capabilities that entail diverse options and permit them to work in conjunction with one another. The idea that pictures and images obtained by graphical designers, particularly the producers who shoot movies of live action with the advanced graphic software or program, can be conveniently obtained with the computer keys, has unrivaled a digital revolution and disruption in itself.

Electronic devices created by NASA for space explorations after the World War II made substantial contributions to the computers development as the advanced products of the information era in the 1960s (Vélez-Agosto 2017 p.532). Integral advances have been conducted on the computers development in scientific research institutes in the US. For the first time, in 1961, talented experts including John Whitney and James might design the abstract images needed for their movies on these computers prototypes via mainframe (Vélez-Agosto 2017 p.975). The computer development with efficient graphical interface was carried out in 1968 by the research efforts of Engelbart Douglas at the Stanford Institute (Vélez-Agosto 2017 p.1092). Due to these efforts, a more serene working environment has been enabled in operating the computers with mouse device linked to the computer.

In the early 70s, with the research efforts of scientists at Xerox Center, the mouse was backed up by technical backups to the mouse, as well as a user-friendly graphical interface was redefined for the computer. With the creation of word processors in the 1970s, the key field of computers activity, exciting and inspiring options were provided to the user by diversification (Rist, 1988 p.1521). CBS Company coined the most expensive technology for the videotape digital editing at the end of 70s. The initial digital audio tape was given for sale in 1971 by Lexicon Company (Rist, 1988 p.1672). Davis Evans and Ivan Sutherland from the Utah University, known for their interactive graphics work, coined “Evans & Sutherland”. Evans & Sutherland, research funds and the US Department of Defense, offered a substantial support to the firm. During this era of scientific studies in computer-graphic imagery at the Utah University, it became area of great interests among enthusiastic doctoral learners, particularly in diverse fields of specialization (Akleman, 2018 p.8)

The 3-dimensional scientific research effort carried out by Catmull Edwin in the computer field in 1974 was a crucial success in securing the first 3D image during the time. It was realized that that by offering movement to this 3D mode, dressed with a 2D coated image, the reflex traces of the production of 3D animation attaining realism are attained. In the famous company of American film production, it has been employed in the use of visual effects. Fielding (2003 p.66), and Alien (1979 p.782) were launching films to 3D images generated in digital environment. Nonetheless, even though many film organizations have utilized this technology in designing and creating digital effects, they are yet to make continuous and effective effort as the Lucas Film launched by the famous director San Rafael and George Lucas. The approach by George Lucas that supports scientists and artists in creation of computer-graphic imagery visuals can be observed in the works of ILM studio founded to generate digital visuals within the studio. ILM increased its gains and thrive in the film by hiring computer wizards including Loren Carpenter, Rob Cook, and Edwin Catmull. They were the most valuable and resourceful scientists in designing computer-graphic imagery visuals for the films series known as the “Star Trek” (Haegler et al., 2009).

Research Question

Through the investigation of special effects including computer-graphics imagery effects in relations to sci-fi films, thispaper will contends that the transitions in the meanings and methods of designing special effects is a reflection of the cultural transformation from modernity to postmodernity. My investigation of visual effects will study the economic and industrial contexts of visual effects, as well as the aesthetic features of the reality effect. I will examine at how film space and time is transformed by computer-graphic imagery effects and how this development calls into investigation of conventional film theories, specifically, realist theories.

Thispaper will discuss the different perspectives and cultural differences of reality as stated by modernity and postmodernity. To effectively do this, I will examine the distinctions of aesthetic characteristics of space and time between analog graphic effects, including stop-motion method, and technological effects, including computer-graphic imagery effects. I will investigate the aesthetics of traditional graphic effects in reference to the realism cinema theories of Kracauer and Bazin. The digital effects aesthetics will be assessed in light of new media/special effect theories of Michele Pierson, Scott Bukatman, and Lev Manovich. Therefore, the dissertation will create three major themes: 1) an investigation of the history of film special effects. It address the technological development history of special history from the “trick films” to computer-graphic imagery effects, in terms of the reality effect history. I will propose that throughout the history of film, special effects have been about natural depiction of reality effect—which is naturalism. Naturalism effect means perceptual indistinctness from live-action with the help of revolutionary artificial technology. Whenever realism fails to absorbs the computer-graphic imagery effects aesthetics due to its focus on the real reference and non-manipulative reality-naturalism entails the aesthetics of computer-graphic imagery effects due to its emphasis on the issue whether the target audience can identify the reality effect artificiality.

If a computer-graphic scene is graphically real as live-action, then we conclude that it has natural reality effects. I will show that Kraucauer’s and Bazin realist theories cannot describe the special effects in the technology era but mainly those in the pre-digital era. I will propose that the digital realist theories of Stephen Prince, Pierson, Bukatman, and Manovich offer optional realism in the technological period. Similarly, I will locate realist theories in the modernity context, and digital realist theories in postmodernity context.

Scientific investigations of science fiction films in the global context.

This will entail the textual analysis of UK special effects films and Hollywood science films in the international context. The development direction of visual effects which will be discussed as well as technology realist aesthetics because of the development and within the postmodernity context will support the national films textual application under the globalizing network discourse of global film sectors.

The transition of the connectedness between United Kingdom films and Hollywood films

I will contend that the change is speed up by the technology and digital effects. The United Kingdom film sector as well as the aesthetics of United Kingdom are changing rapidly in the postmodern period through the digital technology development. The transition of the reality effects in the international effect will be investigated, and it will be demonstrated that the transitions depicts the cultural realities of United Kingdom today.

Special effects are not the only possessions of cinemas and films. They have been in existence before the film appearance, backdating the middle ages. God nosedived from the ceiling to the machine stage in medieval plays. This unique sort of effects underscored the reality effects of the staging spectacle of theater through embodiment of the imaginary and creative scene in vicinity of the audience. The application of special effects especially in the theater was the beginning of success in the melodrama staging system with sensationalism in the 19th century. A film was coined this period. The Train Arriving of Lumières (1895 p.783) gave a reality effect through its imagery realism for the respective audience. For the 1890s audience who understood and recognize 2D painting image, the demonstration of 3-D moving imagery of the locomotive was attractive visual effect.

The front projection method: first demonstrated in 2001 increased the reality effect standard. Since the 1980s, when personal computers became widespread and popular, digital technology has quickly evolved. Star Wars in early 1980s launched a “computer-connected control system”, incisively recording the movement of camera and enabling the camera recur precisely, in order to record rapidly moving spaceships (p.32). Lisberger Steven, 1982) in Tron, working on a narrative within the computer, computer graphic image was inserted directly into the movie/film. Star Wars wholly relied on the rotoscoping technological support method, enabling to insert images between the backgrounds and foreground (p. 56).

In the ninetieth century stage, the special effects images advanced in a new medium through the Georges Méliès’ trick effects (Vardac, 1959, p. 184).  Also, a Tip to the Moon shown the potential of the special effects in the cinematic tricks context such as the technique of stop-motion. The flying carpet sequence in the Raoul Walsh Thief of Bagdad was started in heartfelt wire action with dangling pulleys and tracks. Wires made Douglas to travel through the air. The cinema applied, overlaying, bundling shriveled sets with unique effects (Messaries, 2006, p. 30).

Increasing the level of dependence on the special effects in the 1990s, fiction movies including Terminator 2: Jurassic Park, Judgment Day, and The Phantom Menace, sought the authenticity of the reality effect through the technique of computer technology.

Below are Terminator 2 movie images on special effects


            “Terminator 2 employed rear projection approach, but due to scenes such as those             happening in vehicles were basically in motion. A hanging rig with rights on a track          was developed that created light realistic movement”(Prince, 1996).

The quest of changing the awesomeness to reality has subsisted from the dimension of the arts before the film. It was a crafty personification of human desire and imagination for the impractical practical. The film invention and creativity demonstrated a more cutting-edge personification of the marvelous realization, in terms of the crafts based on desire and imagination. Technology development has always offering the avenue for the progressive demonstration of the marvelous. Michele Pierson’s Special Effects is a cultural investigation of the special effects history that concentrate on the connoisseurship development and fan-focused publications evolution. It is possible to seize Pierson’s explanation of the special effects history that has focused reality effect natural representation. Pierson (2002) call the CGI effects as “natural magic” (pp. 18-21). Pierson examines the origin of the phrase, “natural magic” from letters of David Brewster on Natural Magic as well as Barnouw Erik’s The Cinema and Magician (1981).

Erik’s considers early tricks including experiments of magicians in movie as “natural magic”, the magic staging in front of viewers as “optical illusions” (p.113). Erik contends that the magic set on a screen appeared too real to unravel and comprehend as magic; thus, he argues, the “new industrial and revolution magic may be father to “natural magic” than to “black magic” (p.113). Therefore, for Erik, the CGI effects of the untimely trick were the personification of the “scientific disposition of the times” (Pierson, p.18).  The term “natural magic” by Barnouw is embraced from Brewster David, who defined the term as “famous scientific cultures,” instead of “the supernatural” (p.20). Contextually, as natural magic, special effects have been the scientific experiments emblems of the times. The special effects history epitomizes not only the technological preferment of presentation, as well as the recommendation of the historical trajectory of natural depiction- that is, into a more ideal photorealistic imagery. Thus, the special effects history has been the motivation and power of maintaining a “famous scientific culture of fascination” (p.22).

Besides the historical explanation of the CGA as the scientific culture artistic representation, Pierson contends that craft-and-effect orientation of sci-fiction has a perfect angle towards an “exhibition presentationist mode” — which can be described as the prominence on the demonstration of spectacle instead of narrative representation in the 1990s (p.120). Based on the Pierson, resolute investment of Hollywood in computer graphic imagery effects has transformed the direction of the arts-and-effects that sci-fiction’s stylistics components have sought, inclining towards a more deliberately grandstander demonstration direction (pp. 120). The film production with special effects, after the 1970s, crescively developed with the emergence of personal computer. From the historical view, the reality effects developed by visual effects of analog have been replaced by the visual effects of digital. The special effects history has transformed in the orientation of fast paced movie’s presentationist mode. Frequently, visual effects showcase to the viewers future reality, especially in fantasy and sci-fiction. The future spectacle is demonstrated as possible and/or plausible events and reality.  Consequently, the perception of audience can unduly predispose to the visual effects spectacle instead of the narrative storytelling. The delivery mode is domination of spectacle over narrative.

Therefore, the special effects history has transformed through the footprints of art-and-effect inclination of delivery mode that is the transformation of spectacle-inclined artistic effects. According to Pierson, this research line was launched in The Aesthetics of Ambivalence in early 1990s by Brooks Landon, then developed further by Gunning Tom in his research paper: “The Cinema of Attraction”. While Pierson Michele contends that the special effects history demonstrates the technique towards more presentationist mode and natural reality effect, Bukatman states that special effects history can be comprehended as the change from modernism to postmodernism.

Bukatman (2003) utilizes conception of modernity by Jameson Fredrick. Current products are relics of a “modernizing economy”. While cultural products developed by analog typewriter, for instance, are modern; those created by personal computer keyboards are in some way intrinsically postmodern (pp. 44). According to Bukatman, the manual typewriter used by Gibson to write Neuromancer is associated with the modernism object; still, the cyberspace he explains in his script is postmodern (p. 45). Similarly, special effects of analog including rear projection are state-of-the-art because they are created under the modernity conditions. The modern economy system is vertical and hierarchical, and the system of operation is linear. This is the production mode of special effects of analog, which is designed in a large plant-like-film-studio. Still, the postmodern economy mode is non-linear, horizontal and flexible. Such digital special effects are produced with the laptop computer or personal computer. The computer operation tend to be much flexible and adaptable. The effects engineers can carry out computer-graphic image composition at home, in office or in a studio. Digital editing is always a non-linear process.

Therefore, as economy models have changed from modernism to post-modernism, their socio-cultural products have transformed from special effects of analog to special effects of analog. According to Bukatman, superheroes in sci-films movies have a lot to do with urban modernism, in a such that superheroes “fly through the urban space complexities, cropping up in flamboyance bursts into public domain, then vanishing into the crowd anonymity (p. 9). Bukatman postulates, “These prodigious and tremendous negotiations of space, self, and body contrast incisively with digital fantasies of leaving the body, becoming virtual and cyborg” (p.10). Bukatman views superheroes to be the cyborgs of postmodernism and archetypes of modernism. Bukatman’s contention reveals that electronic visual effects builds cyberspaces as the enzyme for the postmodernism.

Bukatman’s dissection of the postmodern/modern through the means of space, self, and body depicts the special effects history employed in specific sci-fictions movies. It can also be described with the transformation of the economic models.  The performance where superhuman glides through the cityspace was designed by the “front extrapolation” method—a method synchronously filming film performers in a movie studio with images projected on the reflected backdrop (Rickitt p. 312). This method is a depiction of special effects of the 1970s.

Hollywood studios under the modern industry.

The performance that T-100 emerges out of floor of hospital pattern was generated by an application known as “Make Sticky” which enable computer-graphic artists to project the two-dimensional images from onto the three-dimensional models (Duignan & Vaz, 1996, p.206). That is the revolutionary program coined under the postmodernism production era. Similarly, the demonstration of the superhero’s space, self, and body might be explained by special effects of analog; nonetheless, computer program can design the postmodern cyberspace and cyborg in the postmodern era. As Bukatman stares, the visual effects history can be categorized into two main parts: one is the time of visual effects of analog, such as any sort of visual effects without using the computer, and the age of digital visual effects composited or generated with the computer. Contextually, the change to digital effects from analog effects, in conjunction with the sci-fiction genre, signifies the change from the superhero’s self and body, and of the modernity cityspace to the virtual self cyborg, within the cyberspace of postmodernism. That is the special effects history traversing from modernism to postmodernism, as the reality effects become even more impactful and powerful.

Theories of Periodization

Graphic effects have been developed and created through acclimating to the structural change of production methods and with the advancement of technology. The early movies depended on working environment and personal ability, begetting the “tricks” as personal methods. The studio method firmly controlled and regulated the Hollywood films through the means of the Fordism production system of modernism. The strong domination and control of the studio structure in Hollywood was inextricable from the aesthetics of front and rear projection in that their production efficiency was optimized in the studio. The analysis of Hollywood classicism as a system of production led to the digital effects creation with the introduction of the idea of the blockbuster and with the computer technologies development. Sensibly, analog visual effects can be classified under the periodical era as social and economic creation of Fordism, integrating studio system with the Hollywood classicism; and similarly, visual effects of digital can be stated under the era of post-fordist. Kracauer Siegfried (1975 p.781), takes into consideration the “mass ornament” as the “rationality aesthetic reflex quest for by the current economic system” (p.71). Kracauer Siegfried investigated the episode of the Tiller Girls that involve dancing band dressing in similar costumes and acting the simultaneously same formation movement style, including high kicks.

He contends that the Tiller Girls physical movements reflects the minutely and automatic computed conveyor belt flow which is created under the Taylor systems, the mass ornaments aesthetics that reflect the production process of capitalist. Kracauer Siegfried posits, “The ornaments bearers are the masses”, the joy of dancing is not gained from a single performer but from “cooperative groups” (p.69). Not as a solo dancer but as a component of the mass, people contribute to the role of the simultaneous movement. Therefore, the ornament of mass not only depicts the capitalism aesthetics but also demonstrates Taylorization of art industry.  According to Kracauer Siegfried, “The hands in the production factory dovetail to the Tiller Girls legs.” For Kracauer Siegfried, the Tiller Girls physical movement and the concept of global popularity are “an epoch surface revelations,” unravelling the fundamental reality of the present production mode (p.68). Metaphorical analysis of Kracauer Siegfried offers a substantial clue and insight for understanding and unraveling the material reality of the visual effects of analog such as rear projection. The visual effects of analog can be considered ornaments of mass in three main ways: First, as the Tiller Girl products are “not individual people, but inseparable female units.” (p.68), the analog visual effects products are not individual footage or scenery in from the screen but inseparable bundle. Conversely, when visual effects of analog are created, the scotchlite screen, live-action footage, pre-filmed scenery have to be situated at a same location in a studio.

Secondly, the effect engineers need to cooperate with one another to generate an individual effects scene. The filmic facilities include the screen, live footage and pre-filmed scenery and be located in the single studio. The engineer hands need to stick on a conveyor belt together in a factory. The Thriller Girls legs have to rhyme on a stage. The engineers of analog visual effects have to be put in a studio together.  Thirdly, as the bodily acting of the Tiller Girls creates regular patterns and rhymes, visual effects of analogs produce production aesthetics standardization. The process of mechanically producing analog visualizes rewinds the same process of synchronous mixing or recording live-action footage and prefilmed scenery in a single studio. Therefore, analog visual effects can be considered as “surface revelations” of the fundamental Fordism cultural and social reality as a process of capitalist production.

The visual effects of reality analog produce what is known as “materiality reality”. Contrastingly, digital effects ate generated in an isolated location. The place of work is disintegrated to the level that computer generated imagery can be produced in any location where there are personal computers. Furthermore, the personal computers used to produce digital visual effects can be networked but not physically connected to the degree that computer graphic images parts can be generated at distinct places in distinct countries. The method and process of producing digital effects is not the studio system mechanical automation. Instead, it is a sequences of individual projects of taskforce, each at helm of the scene in which an electronic effect is required, under the director vision. Therefore, the production system of digital effects is more fragmented and less hierarchical than the authoritarian and centralized studio system which create analog visual systems.

The digital effects produce the hyperreality effect or reality effect instead of “material reality”. These are the facets of the system of production in postmodern period. Hypothetically, the process of production and digital effects aesthetics can be regarded as the mass ornament postmodern update in that ornamental features of digital effects reflect sufficient postmodern era of adaptable accumulation. Curtin Michael (1996) views the transformation of cultural production configuration as the cultural change from Fordism to accumulation of flexible, and contends in terms of distribution and marketing that the art industry in the period of what he refers to as “neo-Fordism” has 2 proclivities: one concentrate on “mass art forms focused at wide global or national markers”: the second is to intensely target “niche viewers or audiences” (p.198).

Michael Curtin concentrates on the dialectic of “fragmentation/globalization,” meaning directing attention and focus to niche audience in order to optimize profits in the globalization status. Therefore, from perspective of Curtin, in the period of Neo-Fordism, film industry look for mass taste as well as to fulfill the niche markets taste. Harvey David’s research study on the association between the transformation of cultural change and social formation offers a more critical description of the change of consumption and production of art products, and portrays the most of this era framing between the production system structural transformation and the visual effects development. David (1990 p.152) posits, in the Postmodernity Condition: A change from Fordism to adaptable accretion and aggregation has resulted in “fast-paced turnover time”. Correspondingly, aesthetics of postmodernist, including “fashion, spectacle, difference, ephemerality” has dictated and influenced present art (p.157). Changing mass production of Fordist to adaptable accretion and aggregation, the new system of capitalist has offered a substantial scale of demand, leading to fast-paced product innovation, reducing the turnover time.

Mass Production System

The Fordist system of mass production impacted the creation of studios’ main objectives of product differentiation, efficiency, and standardization, structuring the film industry, which has popularized and produced analog visual effects. Product differentiation, efficiency and standardization,  on which Fordist exploitation of assembly lines and labor was set up, has impacted the features of Hollywood classicism or key goals of product differentiation, efficiency and standardization. Fordism attained an extreme amelioration of productivity as well as standardization of production processes and products, through applications of kinetic motion of labor to conveyor belts movement. Correspondingly, mass production of Fordist has become an effect of “mass consumption, a new form of labor power reproduction, a psychology new aesthetic; a new sort of modernist and rationalized society” (p.127).

Repeated kinetic motion, like that burlesqued in Modern Times by Charles Chaplin (Charles, 2006), has enhanced labor skill and facilitated the process of mass production. It was a symbol of the consumption and production culture. Physical activity of laborers for mass production was planned executed in a time slot that was guided by seconds. Resistance of laborers against machine-like tasks, which ought to follow the conveyor belt flow, was avoided by a focused authoritarian dominance system, Fordist manufacturing managerial feature. Fordism, as esthetics of assembly lines, produces standardization of process and products, product differentiation, and production efficiency. A manager of production establish kinetic movement of laborers, so that they might efficiently coordinate and propel their body parts based on the conveyor belts movement. Relentless repetition of this kinetic/physical movement enhanced laborers’ skill; consequently, the process of manufacturing was standardized.

Within the flow of assembly lines, certain parts were amassed and others were not; the manufacturing products were distinguished. Therefore, Fordism, featured by the assembly lines automation system, has the values of product differentiation, efficiency and standardization. These three effects or values, generated by Fordism, alongside the three objectives of the classical Hollywood film. Thompson, Steiger, and Bordwell (1985 p.89) argued that Hollywood production mode to optimize profit is similar to factory automation structure of Ford.

Mass production structure of Henry Ford, which was summed up as “assembly, standardization, and interchangeability,”  had significant impact on the culture of production, and influenced the Hollywood studio structure through “comprehensive labor division” (p.93). Kinematic movement standardization, generated by Fordism, has been depicted by comprehensive labor conceptualization of the Hollywood studio structure. Locations of filmmaking were to be centralized in one sire, to increase filmmaking efficiency; this consolidation signified that studios espoused mass production system of Ford.  As Thompson, Steiger, and Bordwell argued, the early film studios were known as “factories” (p.125)

Centralizing the process of labor into the studio facilities, Hollywood studios increased the efficiency of production, as well as filming equipment, standardized cinematography and narrative. The marketing strategy of studios, with the aim of profit optimization through domination, differentiated movie products, through the diversification and use of genres, stars, and technology. Particularly, as sound was coined in 1926, filmmaking in factory studio was bolstered. During the sound films early stage, the studios had a problem with location, because of the scarcity of recording instruments, including microphones. Sound recording limited flaming in studios on location, and for the subsequent 20 years, the film industry outdoors could be filmed nearly within the walls of studio. When the film advanced to the sound stage, the makers were usually limited to the studio (p.21). Consequently, the application of the special effects concentrated on production of location effects in the studio. “The new technology enabled the practical application of rear projection.” (p.22). The technique of rear projection was one of the depiction analog visual effects optimizing the studio system efficiency in that it generates location effects through projection of pre-filmed scenery onto the rear screen behind the actors during diming in the studio.

Hollywood studios gave significantly supported system of mass production, through rear projection special effects method, bringing the concept of efficiency and standardization to studios. In Hollywood movies, rear projection cinematic technology symbol that reflect Fordism historical context and synchronously defined the culture of production generated by the studio system.

Time-Space Displacement

If the early Hollywood production logic was apparently Fordist, the early visual effects aesthetics also reflected the modernism of Fordism, through indexical displacement of space and time. Fordism, as absolute way of life and production culture, generated standard and uniformity of processes and products. Fordism was coined on the principles of “efficiency and functionality” of the aesthetics of modernity (Bordwell et al, pp, 137). The space and time depicted by rear projection cannot distort realty even though dual space and time are projected and overlapped. If digital visual effects displace the reality of space and time, analog effects, as rear projection, distort space and time. If Bazinian space and time is modernity concept that attempt to determine the ambivalent truth of factual and reality through the use of camera with trust in technology, the technique of rear projection, unlike the digital visual effects, does not displace the reality of space and time. The scenery is distorted from its original space and time to the live-action foreground. By distorting space and time, rear projection employs the camera more effectively and efficiently and yearns to show the truth of reality that underlines system of Fordist economy. According to Singh (2004 p.101), displacement of time-space is feature of time-space compression and Fordist capitalism as that of postmodernity capitalism (p.105).

Displacement of time-space, described as the export of excessive domestic product and the import of scarce products, portrays the ‘new internationalism” supply globalization of affordable raw materials mainly energy products” (David, p.138). Through the Fordist mass production foreign trade were displaced to distinct space and tome, depicting the start of internationalism. The capitalist idea of displacement of time-space is applicable to the special effects aesthetics. For instance, in the application of rear projection, space and time of the footage was displaced to the time and space of the performance of studio shooting actors in the front, displacing the space and tome of the movie’s cinematic field. The camera takes space and time of the rear projection of the visual effects of analog, displacing the space and time of location, and synchronously projects that kind of space and time on the space and time of the real acting in the studio.

Research Methodology

This research project uses a theoretical expatiation comparing the parallels between the discourse of postmodernity/modernity and visual effects, using textual analysis to unravel the symptomatic connotations of key texts. Since this study is a study of cultural connotation of special effects, theoretical connotation about postmodernism, special effect theories, theories of spectacle, new media theories, and classic film theories is the first technique. Through the means of theoretical discourse, the research will contrast modernism, realist film theories, and analog special effects, and draw parallel between theories of postmodernism, new media theories and spectacle theories, and digital special effects. In such a way, special effects of analog are backed up by modernity economy and realist film theories.

Computer graphic imagery effects backed up by technology cannot be explained by special effect theories and new media theories, but fitted to the phenomenon of postmodernism. Therefore, this study will utilize the theoretical discourse research as the first technique. Due to the fact that digital effects, in the specific movies, will be the research study data, a textual analysis is the suitable methodology for the study. Employing the technique of textual analysis, digital effects scenes will be analyzed, grasp the connotation of the redefined reality in the entire reality, and acquire a better understanding of its role, based on the socio-cultural effects. Therefore, a textual analysis of each sequence and scene in which digital effects are employed is important.

To understand the connotations of special effects in a movie in not to describe the position of filmmaker, but to understand contextually the meaning and function in the entire narrative, and synchronously, interpret the association between the society and culture and the special effects. Therefore, the contextual connotation of special effects is related to the social and cultural effects. According to Jameson Fredric (2003 p.56), literary criticism and analysis is a “theoretical sort of expression.” Fredric (2003 p.108), whereas the past works can generates all sorts of special aesthetic which are applicable to those past times, the present times entail all sorts of “coded data” because of the fact people are living now. Therefore, cultural products’ contents and form are full of the coded social symptom.

Taking into consideration Fredric, a movie including CGI effects as social forms need to be perceived as the “coded data” such as symptoms for the “missing thing known as the social”. Accordingly, the connotation of the entire move, the role of special film, and their relevance in the context generate culture symptom, including socio-political peculiarity, nationality and historicity. Literal criticism need to decode the hidden data of cultural and social forms that depict social and cultural effects. The study will investigate the texts, comprehend the connotations of the special effects and films for the purpose of grasping the socio-political or socio-cultural symptoms of the CGI effects and the movie.

The study will investigate early fantasy/landmark SF movies that use visual effects, comprehend their relevance in the special effects history, and describe the creation of reality effect followed by the creation of scientific technology.  The texts to use includes The Thief of Bagdad, A Trip to the Moon and Train Arriving.  Superman, Star Wars and A space odyssey will be used in investigating visual effects modernist aesthetics. Although Superman and Star Wars were released in the post-modernist period, they can be grouped under the modernist effects movies since the movies are the most impacted sci-fiction films through the use of analog visual effects. Particularly, spatial and periodical setting of Superman is a usual modern urban. The classical theme which promotes and encourages good deeds and punishes the bad deeds is also considered classical. Modern effects and modern subject are matched beautifully in this movie.

The study will also investigate postmodern reality effects aesthetics which digital effects produce. Particularly, the matric depicts a manipulated and grappled virtual reality, by the individuals who are found in the cyberspace. Individuals reside in the matrix virtual reality, which is AI, as a symbol of the computer technology. In the matrix movie, Neo, the main character rescues the society through the approaches the omnipotent technology power.  In addition, digital effects, as the revolutionary of the current technology, are perfectly presented from the start to the end. Therefore, the formal aspects and the films’ themes are normally associated with the concept of the culture and/or digital reality. Contextually, the Matrix film is most-suited text, in which association between digital environment and modern world can be retrieved or extracted.



The visual effect above is called “bullet time” — the slow-motion influence                                                 which saw Neo dance and duck around bullets slicing past him—becoming a                                             staple of action films and video games” (Carpenter, 1984).

Modernist Visual Effects

This chapter to address the 1950s visual effects when the system of studio was established and advanced in Hollywood. The visual effects at that time, were made up of front/rear projection and matte painting, really attained the studio system rationality, including mass production and efficiency through standardization.  The production analog visual effects aesthetics was contemporary in that the system of studio was the depiction of the contemporary economic system of the Ford system. The visual effects depicted modernism of the era through the narrative implication, periodical background, and setting in sci-fiction movies, until visual effects of postmodernist emerge in the 1980s.

Contextually, this section address the modernism of the analog visual effects aesthetics and the social-and-cultural effects of the narratives, sequences, scenes, and setup that effects generates. Similarly, this section serves as periodical and theoretical bridge, demonstrating the process and system of how the past trickality transformed into the reality effect of postmodern created by CGI. In this section, the study will investigate how sci-fiction movies from the 1960s to 70s demonstrated the Cold War conditions and the rational discourses of modernist after World War II. The depiction of the Cold War, the grandiose space discovery discourse, the behemoth characters in sci-fiction movies as the delusion and deranged of the Cold War, the application of analog effects increasing the city space of urban modernism and the production studio system efficiency.  This study will not investigate the visual effects of 1920s to 40s because the analog visual effects in the movies of 1950s to 1970s demonstrated finer instances and showcased a more understandable features of modernist effects compared to those of the 1920s to 40s.

Cold War Representation

The Cold War was depicted through the fundamental setting of space sci-fiction movies. The space sci-fiction genre, which had a reverberation starting with Forbidden Planet (Wilcox Fred, 1956 p.552), clearly demonstrated cultural aftereffect of the Word War II. The spaceships in the movies, including Star Trek, The Angry Red Planet, and Forbidden Planet, were employed as military craft, or to conquer and govern planets, instead of civil aviation; correspondingly, the human characters, rather than aliens, dressed in uniforms, which demonstrated draconian hierarchy that follow the military ranks. Their banal lives in mythos appear to suffuse those of Second World War.

Below is a Star Trek movie image


“Star Trek implemented Computer Graphic Imagery in their title Sequences, Still they began employing visual effects techniques but changed to regular use of computer graphic imagery in the late 1990s.”(Chen, 1995).

The uniformed military personal’ outright obedience and acquiescence to rank and dogfight scenery in space, as their particular setting in the space sci-fiction movies, including original Star Wars and Forbidden Planet, depict modernism itself in the peripheral periodical settings, even if it is in the galaxy far away or in the remote far future. The visual effects that generate such spectacles foresee the modernism of that era on the future mirror.

The Space Discovery Discourse

The space conquest leitmotif in sci-fiction movies between 1950s and 1970s well demonstrate the space discovery discourse from the 1950s to the early 80s when the Cold War involving Soviet Union and United States was sustained. The space exploration history was coined in 1958, when the Soviet Union initiated the 1st artificial satellite. One month later, Sputnik II was sent, alongside dog on board. The United States, getting the goad from the preemptive advance of Soviet, coined Explorer One in 1959. Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut became the first person to orbit the planet Earth in 1961, which occurred for one hundred and eight minutes. The impassioned competition and rivalry of space advancement and exploration between the Soviet Union and United States had started (Park, 2005 p.87). The then President J. F Kennedy made a promise to land man on Moon, formed a narrative of space civilization and exploration: He believed that United States was to commit itself to attaining the goal, before the end of the decade, of landing a person on the Moon and coming back to Earth Safely.

President Kennedy emphasized that no individual space project in such era will be more exciting to mankind, or more valuable in the far-reaching civilization of space; and will be so expensive or challenge to attain. As Gilruth (1975 p.552) emphasized, since the period of landing was to end in 1970, that the United States in 1960s concentrated all its technology and energy to the Apollo program success; “a clear trial of strength and ability with Soviets Unit was certain, if they opt to compete.” The era of the 1960s to 1970s, when the United States sent Apollo rockets into space, was the beginning of race and competition to space. It was the time of awe-inspiring narrative of space civilization, starting in 1957 during the era of Cold War, triggered the resonance of space Sci-Fiction film genre.

Films such as “The Day the Earth Stood” depicted the stress of Cold War in the association between Gort, a monster figure, and Klaatu, a perfect US character. Starting with Forbidden Planet of MGM, The Angry Red Planet, Twenty Million Miles to Earth, and Body Snatchers, Sci-fiction movies reflected an increasing interest in the space in the 1950s and 1960s. The rivalry for space discovery and exploration, which was at boom in the 1960s and 1970s, was relentlessly updated through Marooned, A Space Odyssey, Queen of Blood, and Mutiny in Outer Space.

The Monsters as the Cold War Paranoia

The goblin characters shown in sci-fiction movies, including Vader Darth in Star Ward, Hal in Space Odyssey and Id in Forbidden Planet, demonstrates the delusions and deranged of Cold War period that encouraged the self-awakening of possible/potential attack on the rival. These sci-fiction movies can be seen as modern since they put rationality at the center which disagree with everything that is unreasonable, unknown, and strange (Ahrens, 2006 p.245) in that mortal characters redress the displaced/distorted effects of machinery revolutionary through the processes of humanity including Luke’s Force, Bowman’s intelligence and Adam’s leadership. The clear-cut differentiation between the bad and good makes the goblin/monsters, which is backed up the visual effects of analog.

The Application of Analog Visual Effects

The analog visual effects, such as front/rear projection and matte painting, employed in space sci-fiction films, increased the studio system efficiency. Matte painting replaced the set that was impracticable to reduce the location shooting cost. This made the work of studio more economically and efficiently. Front and rear projection foresaw the modernism aesthetics under economic system of Fordist through time-space displacement of live-action footage and background scenery in the studio.

The visual studio of analog supported and backed up the personifications of the culture of attraction cinema. A program of front projection known as Zoptic system was launched in Superman. It increased the sense of perception in long flight of Superman. The camera in Star Wars, with the back-up of the computer technology, might take pragmatic dogfight sceneries in the studio.

The City Space as Urban Modernism.

The city-acclimatized sci-fiction movies use the modern city-space as the urban modernism symbolism as the key stage of heroic’s action. Clark Kent in Superman shifts to Metropolis from Small vile and serve his purpose of advancing mankind. Govil Nitin (2002 p.80), sci-fiction narratives derives from modernism urban experience (p.82). The narrative of a country boy visiting metropolis look for a greener pasture offers the film with trope of urban modernization, via a story of upward mobility. Travelling through the Metropolis skyscrapers, Superman turn into idol of urban modernity/modernization.

To understand best how sci-fiction movies employing analog effects depict the modern era and Cold War, this study chose four movies critically and commercially useful: Superman, Star Wars, Odyssey and A Space. These are depictions of sci-fiction movies of the contemporary times, mirroring the space exploration fever and the studio system efficiency. Forbidden Planet is a depict blockbuster movie of the 1960s and makes people to acknowledge the worth and relevance of matte painting.

While A Space Odyssey is a cutting-edge movie based on visual effects, it incisively describes the artistry and fascination of space through the methods of front projection. The ethereal accordance between the audio score and visual image with the metaphysical depth places the movie on the stage of the creativity and ingenious. Star Wars mark a new eon of spectacle, as it employs computer in making film. Superman portrays how visual effects of analog, such as Zoptic, depicts the urban modernism reality effect.

Postmodernist Visual Effects

Since the late 1970s, effects-acclimatized sci-fictions movies, such as The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Judgment Day, Terminator 2 and Tron have set up visual effects of digital as the crucial technological tool in the fantasy and sci-fiction genres. The inquest of movie/film industries, and viewers, about the reality effect, has coerced and compelled computer programmers to create new programs and software required for the operating and streamlining digital effects. The computer technology development and effects computer program has amplified the reality effect and the inclination for the beauty and marvelous.  If rear projection cause the Superman to travel through the Sky in the film, Superman, computer-graphic imagery effects caused the Neo travel through air in the film, The Matrix. Superman soaring in the air through the metropolis, by using modern effects, has transformed into Neo’s soaring into the postmodern simulacra sky. The unusual Superman bodily movements, because of the wires, have been enhanced and designed more real through digital effects. The computer-graphic effects that are increasing the practicability of flying superman is innately postmodern based on the hybridization or synthesization of the computer or film, the feature of the compression of time and space, the hyperreality, and its effects of postmodernity in the movies.

There are four basic classes of the postmodernism of digital effects that this study will attempt to investigate. First, CGI effects blurs the limit between the film and digital computer by the synthesis and investigation of the modern media. In essence, digital effects are usual framework of new media. According to Manovich (2001), “New media depicts an intersection of two distinct past trajectories: media and computing technologies” (p.22). Computer digital effects are considered postmodern because of the attribute of synthetic hybridization. Therefore, computer digital effects are inclined to blur the bounds between the film and computer.

On the basis of process of generating Computer-graphic imagery,  digital visual effects blurs the bound between filming and computing, since computing is one of the film making processes. Based on the scene that computer graphic imagery employed, digital visual effects also cloud those between film and animation, the plausible and implausible, and real and hyperreal. Based on characters, the difference between non-human and human is blurred.

This study will investigate the inclination of obscuring limits/boundaries as section of the postmodernism of effects-acclaimed sci-fiction movies. Secondly, time-space compression is an essential condition and state of digital visual effects. Digital visual effects can be generated in any place there is a computer, because of their characteristic as new media constitute of binary code of 1 and 0. Whereas visual effects of analog are generated by a team of special effects in one studio, digital effects can be generated at any place and assembled, forming singe effect. Due to the fact that digital effects are generated only when they are required in specific times and specific scenes, the Fordist notion of inventory diminishes.

The features of digital effects, which are generated, consumed and kept as a computer file, enable the postmodernism, capitalist intellection of just-in-time and production-on-demand delivery. The CGIs synthesis, produced at different locations, and footage of live-action can be perceived as quintessential framework of time-space compression. Third, aesthetics of digital effects, as reality effects, generate hyperreality produced through the binary code simulation of 0 and 1. The preferment of reality effect relates directly to the aesthetic style development with the technology support.

Contrastingly, the reality effect generated by visual effects of analog has the stylistic boundaries as the analog but it is coined on the reality. In the event of rear projection, because of the live-action footages and background scenery has be recorded by the camera at the same time, the ultimate resolution was lower than the live-action forages resolution. The field depth in synthetic frame was unusual, because of the resolution difference between background scenery and foreground live-action; correspondingly the level of reality effect was comparably low.

In the era of visual effects of analog, 360-dregree shot, including sequence of bullet-time perceived in The Matrix, was impossible technologically. Nonetheless, as digital effects were launched with the computer technology development, different filmic styles, such as incarnation of impossible scenes, might be operated. Consequently, the reality effects correspond to the reality events natural movement. Computer-graphic imagery depiction of the Part of Jurassic and the Cyberspace figure in the Matrix rule over the live-action shots.

Apparently, the digital reality effects are postmodernism, as CGI hyperreality rules over reality. The reality effect aesthetics produced by digital effects can be categorized into two groups, as Pierson Michele state, “simulationist” and “technofuturist” (p.97). The visual effects that deal with the future, with advanced technology and science, portray aesthetic of a technofuturist effects, while effects of simulationist realize the fanciful creatures depicted as the extinct animal or beings of the past, including dinosaur, through the digital simulation means. Therefore, the visual effects employed in The Matrix, Judgment Day, Terminator 2 and Tron are technofuturist, whereas those in Park of Jurassic are simulationist.

The reality effect of digital visual effects relies on the esthetics style of computer-graphic image rendering. The objective of CGI is “excellence of rendering of complicated animated scenes.” Excellence means virtually unique from live action motion image photography; and complicated means picturesque rich as non-fictitious scenes” (Manovich, 1997, p. 12). Therefore, the reality effect of digital visual effect is quantified by the stylistic esthetics of computer-graphic imagery, with respect to environment and hyperreal events.

Digital effects are applicable to all stylistic components, such as editing, sound, cinematography and mise-en-scene. Mise-en-scene entails use of colors, background settings composition, and depth of field in computer-graphic frames. Cinematography entails low and high angles, and long takes. Editing involves storytelling causality, slow and fast motion. Sound is related with the event reality effect in the computer-graphic imagery.

The reality effect of digital visual effects submerge aesthetics, including stylist color and elements, as well as the narrative; correspondingly, it impacts, the connotation of a movie. As digital visual effects are added on footage, they distort or exaggerate the physical production that is conveyed by live-action. In such a process, the digital visual effects can impact the characteristics of characteristics; consequently, they can distort the connotation of a movie. For instance, the cyber world constituted green digital codes that Neo acknowledges in the Matrix, depicting the period of postmodernity that the digital visual effects portraying the scenes are, the computer world. When Neo acknowledges the hyperreal world, the viewers sees the hyperreal scene.

The digital visual effects, which are plenty of hyperreality constitute compression of space and time, explain the computer world of hyperreal of the story. Therefore, a discourse of postmodernity visual effects entails postmodern film themes, backed up by the digital effects. In addition, as we can observe the Gollum, digital character in the Lord of Rings film, digital visual effects can result in the flow of a narrative and contribute immensely to the film implication.

One can observe that the influence of digital effects on the interpretation of narrative is secondary since socio-cultural effects or connotation of a movie/film relies on the script narrative. In a broader sense, most performances emanates from drama. Nonetheless, from the viewpoint of modern filmmaking process, which take into considerations a digital character in the firm as one of the key characters in the organization phase, the importance of digital visual effects cannot be dismissed. As a human actor act, a character showcase skills through the hands of an engineer with assistance of voice actors/ motion capture including Andy Serkis. As the capabilities of the actor and director influence the film artistic value, the delicate methods of programmers determine the digital character performance—the digital character reality effect—and affect the film quality. Additionally, digital effects establishes the historical era of a film. For instance, audience can view Forrest Gump greet President F. Kennedy. Hypothetically, digital effects become function as elements of narrative.


The aesthetics of visual effects in sci-fiction that emanated from trickality of early cinema has transformed from modernity analog effect to postmodernity digital effect. The difference between effects-added footage and live-action footage has slowly diminished because of the postmodern visual effects. The amplification of this invisibility through computer-graphic imagery is disintegrating sci-fiction monopoly and domination of visual effects. Without uniqueness among the movie genres, digital visual effects are now being employed to the degree where the production budget and creative imagination of film converge. This diversification the movie genres that employ digital effects will persist provided the postmodernist reality effect fulfills both imaginative power of the creator and production budgets.  From the visual effects history that seek the reality effect, the digital effects spread has let to obscuring of the line between effects-added footage and live-action footage as well as the breaking of boundary down between animation and live-action footage.

This manifestation has already demonstrated through effects-acclimatized movies such as World of Tomorrow and Sky Captain (Conran Kerry, 2004). The comic books still images, were changed into motion images by means of digital production in which the forage of live-action was digitally animated, manipulated, and composited to improve dramatic reality and to deliver the ambience of the original comics. The bounds among animation, digital effects and live-action are becoming indeterminate. Further, the reality effect of digital scenes is difficult to be discerned to the level that audience cannot easily perceive the application of visual effects without gaining access to the film magazines, books, or DVDs.

Providing utility and convenience, computer technology has become critical part of modern lives. Consequently, it is difficult to distinguish digital life from typical analog life. In such a way, digital visual effects have become an important component of the future of film production through provision of efficient and economical production as well as niche for expansion and optimization human imagination and creativity.

The employment of digital visual effects can reduce budgets from the creation of large sets and extras payment. Digital visual effects enables the film producer to take ariel shots in the studio with the screen, and to low risk factors through supplanting computer-graphic imagery for dangerous and risky dynamite shots. Most importantly, digital visual effects can depict these scenes indeterminately from reality. In such a case, application of digital visual effects become a standard way filmmaking in all genres. Also, digital effects are simple and efficient to create, because only tool required is software and computer. Therefore, they accelerate transformation, if the dynamics between local film and Hollywood industries.

Currently, local film sectors can create a spectacle commensurate to that of Hollywood if they have human resources, software, and computers.  Moving away from Hollywood’s monopoly globally, thus new web of resources, which depend on the free trade resources of local film sector for accessing and obtaining qualitative equipment, labors and cheap costs can become a substitute to Global Division of Social and Cultural Labor.


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