Beyond animation, what can CGI technology be used for?
It’s impossible to scroll through TikTok or Instagram these days without hearing the song “We don’t talk about Bruno” from Disney’s Encanto. The latest addition to Disney’s animated film catalog, Encanto, has made the company over US$200 million as of January this year. The film is all set to climb the ranks of other Disney classics, like Frozen and Tangled.
Besides compelling storylines and likable female leads, the films share a distinct stylistic similarity. All of them have been made using computer-generated imagery (CGI). CGI refers to the use of computer graphics in art and media. When you think of CGI, movies and animations are probably what cross your mind first. Nevertheless, the technology actually has much broader and diverse uses. Let’s dive into some of them to learn more about the practical applications of CGI.
Applications of CGI
CGI can be used in creating product photos even when you have no physical product to shoot. Not only can it help you create life-like visuals, but it also saves you money and time on creating complex sets and making multiple adjustments in lighting and camera angles. It also removes the limits imposed by camera specifications because now you can produce high-quality images with the touch of a button.
This CGI technique uses real-life objects as the base over which CGI images or animations are augmented. Often this technique requires the use of green screens, which are then replaced with computer-generated images. For instance, the midair fight scene from The Matrix and the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead series were both CGI composites. So the next time you want to shoot an advertisement for your company, you don’t have to factor in the additional costs of sets and locations—all of that can be handled entirely by CGI.
Motion capture CGI
Motion capture CGI is a technique for capturing an actor’s movements and using them as a guideline for the actions of a computer-generated character. To do so, actors have to put on motion capture suits, on which markers are placed indicating the actor’s joints. One of the best examples of motion capture CGI movies is Avatar.
Trial aids made using CGI
CGI can be used to create visual depictions of how an incident took place. This can help the judge and the jury visually understand the lawyer’s arguments. For instance, you can use CGI to re-create the events of the crime chronologically. While CGI cannot be taken as absolute proof, it could help supplement a witness’s testimony.
CGI as stand-in for actors
If, due to unforeseen circumstances, an actor is no longer able to perform their role, CGI can be used as a temporary substitute for them. This was done in films like Fast and Furious 7 when actor Paul Walker passed away while the film was still being shot. While CGI cannot completely replace an actor or their creative acting choices, it can help filmmakers who are in a pinch.
CGI in video games
CGI can help game developers create an enhanced gaming experience by adding photorealistic visuals. It also allows for the creation of three-dimensional (3D) gaming environments where gamers can feel like they are a part of the game itself. Some of the games that use CGI include World of Warcraft and Second Life.
CGI can be used in the field of medicine to create implants catered to the specific needs of the patient. It can also be used in creating simulations of surgical environments to train medical students. For instance, the Microsoft HoloLens has been used by surgeons at St Mary’s Hospital in the UK to overlay images of CT scans and virtually “see through” limbs during surgery.
CGI in real estate
CGI can be used in real estate to create 3D CGI maps of houses. These 3D maps or renderings of houses can be manipulated to show the interiors, the wireframe of a house or even show the house blended together with photos or videos. This would allow customers to get a complete picture of how the house would look from the comfort of their home.
CGI not only opens up avenues for a more immersive entertainment experience but also simplifies the jobs of medical experts and real estate sellers. Today, there are several entertainment startups which are actively working on advancing the field. For instance, the U.S.-based startup, Live CGI, has created a CGI software as a service (SaaS) platform which consists of a virtual studio and video player. The studio and player simultaneously work together for completely virtual mass media production. Such efforts stemming from the pandemic show us that the list of what CGI has to offer will truly be endless in the future.
If you are thinking about entering the entertainment startup space, consider adding CGI to your operations to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Header image courtesy of Pexels.