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There have been many CG milestones since computers first began to become employed in the production of special effects. The creation of a new world by the Genesis Device in Star Trek II, a stained glass window come to life in Young Sherlock Holmes, a watery alien tentacle in The Abyss and of course a liquid metal T1000 in Terminator 2.

Jurassic Park was the first significant occasion where we witnessed CGI being employed in the creation of textured, living, breathing creatures and the results were nothing sort of breath-taking. Whether it was our first sight of a Brachiosaurus filling the screen, or the swift menace of the Velociraptors or a T-Rex roaring, running and biting, Jurassic Park’s seamless transitions between CGI and puppet/animatronic work continues to impress, refusing to age in the way that many effects of that period sadly have.

There have, of course, been countless leaps and bounds made in the realm of CGI since JP, but what we’re going to focus on here are those changes that built on, were inspired by or bear close resemblance to, the ground broken by Spielberg and ILM.

The films might not have always measured up, but in each case the CGI proved to be something to behold.

They’re Flocking This Way – Starship Troopers

Gallimimus Gallop

Gallimimus. A whole herd. More like a flock really, a flock of birds. Suddenly Dr Grant and those pesky kids are in the middle of what is rapidly turning into a stampede as they flock towards their position. Integrating a number of similar dinosaurs as they run past human characters and bump into each other before the T-Rex starts to munch down on them was quite a feat. The progression from that to the Zulu-alike sequences in Starship Troopers where the Bugs set upon the mobile infantry’s position on Klendathu was impressive to say the least.

As with a flock of Gallimimus, thousands of Bugs took a considerable amount of rendering, but also a sophisticated enough program to enable them to seem to operate as individuals, but undeniably members of a group, acting collectively. The overall effect has endured, despite the CG work noticeably deteriorating through successive (and successively under-funded) sequels.

Like JP’s assorted dinosaurs, the Bugs of Klendathu had texture, distinct traits and personalities and the immersive interaction with “real” actors was top draw. A genuine CG-triumph.

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.