Star Wars is perhaps one of the best movies to compare how sci-fi films were made before and after CGI was used. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) changed many industries over the years. This is especially true in the filmmaking game. Creating virtually anything on a computer has made film production more practical, costing less money and time for any movie genre.
If you’ve never heard of Star Wars, I’m not sure what planet you’re from, but we’re here to tell you that it is one epic saga that blew up in 1977. The original trilogy had painstaking special effects as CGI had not been created or become prevalent in filmmaking yet. So how were the first movies made? Well think creatively! Animators typically spent an hour creating about one second of footage. Yes, it was animated and photographed. The production made use of trick photography to capture the vehicles and space technology which was made from miniature models. The actors wore costumes, especially for C-3PO and Chewie. This description is monumentally different from the green screen that is propped up on movie sets and edited in computers today.
So how does it work?
Actors go on set and see a skeletonized version of the location, and they just use their beautiful talents to picture it. Take Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker which was released in 2019. That is more than four decades after the first movie was released. In this movie, no more miniatures were used. Most notably, the producers were able to CGI Carrie Fisher into the movie to play Leia. They had a double come in and play the part, but they CGI-pasted Carrie Fisher’s face on there. Weird? Yes, it may be. But if you’re a fan, you wouldn’t want to replace her! This way, Leia left Star Wars in the most amazing way possible—as a Jedi and a mom!
CGI proves that with technology, no movie is too radical or impossible.