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    CGSociety and 3D World present a rundown of the Top 100 3D Movies as selected by the CG community

    hat marks out a truly great 3D movie? The knowledge that it pioneered techniques that became standards within the industry, as Flight of the Navigator did with reflection mapping?

    Or that it raised the bar on the volume of effects work possible in a movie, as with Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace? Or simply that it told a memorable story? That was the question we posed in our recent poll to determine the most influential 3D movies of all time, organised in conjunction with 3D World magazine, the industry's leading community portal.

    To qualify for inclusion on our shortlist, a movie needed to meet three criteria: to have a running time of 60 minutes or longer; to have received a full cinematic release;
    and to include a significant element of 3D animation or VFX work, as opposed to matte painting or compositing.

    Films like Blade Runner - although undoubtedly influential - were excluded on the grounds that they featured only traditional effects.

    Movies that received an Academy Award nomination were automatically included, as did those whose technology reels were screened in the Electronic Theater at SIGGRAPH.

    The remainder were chosen from standard reference books such as Isaac Kerlow's The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects, and according to feedback from our own contacts in the industry.
    Visitors to CGSociety were then asked to pick the 10 films on the shortlist that they most admired technically; that had the greatest impact on their working lives; or that most made them want to work in 3D in the first place.

    During the three weeks it remained online, 5,874 people filled out the poll, casting well over 50,000 individual votes. To the best of our knowledge, this makes it the largest survey of its type ever conducted - and the definitive guide to the films that shaped an industry.

    You can find a rundown of the 150 films in the shortlist on a special 3D World website here.
     
    100 Ron Howard's tense space drama bagged an Oscar nomination for Digital Domain's slick CG artistry and detailed large-scale modelling techniques.

    Key effects DD's proprietary tracking technology helped create a series of stunning deep space scenes, plus a Saturn V launch sequence that even NASA astronauts mistook for original televised archive footage.

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    99 Many studios helped Sony supply the visual effects to set the man of steel soaring, as Bryan Singer swapped X-Men for Superman.

    Key effects Sony Pictures Imageworks' super-realistic digital double of Superman actor Brandon Routh used Paul Debevec's LightStage 2 system, capturing reflectance data of the actor to apply to a spandex-clad computer-generated model.

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    98 Marking Tim Burton's first major dalliance with 3D, Mars Attacks! features over 300 shots from Industrial Light & Magic, then at the height of its dominance over the Hollywood effects industry.

    Key effects From 1950s trading cards to the big screen, the titular Martians represented a leap forward in CG character work. Putting even 15 on screen at once nearly brought ILM's systems grinding to a halt.

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    97 Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi thriller enlisted the help of MetroLight Studios to handle digital effects in this take on a Philip K Dick short.

    Key effects Tim McGovern's Oscar-winning X-ray scanner sequence, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is seen in CG skeleton form, was also one of the earliest uses of motion capture in the cinema.

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    96 A demonic house is brought to life with 40,000 animation controls in this stylised, fully CG family feature, building on Sony's work on The Polar Express.

    Key effectsMonster House marked the next step in performance capture. The actors wore around 80 body markers and between 40 and 80 facial markers, which were captured using 200 infrared cameras.

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    95 Audiences watched in awe as CG cattle and tankers were spat from vicious cyclones in Jan de Bont's tornado chaser movie.

    Key effects The real star is Mother Nature, as realised by ILM's proprietary particle software. It lost to Independence Day at the Oscars, but ILM's hyper-realistic storm simulations can still thrill today.

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    94 With some of the most sophisticated effects created for a sci-fi movie, MPC's recent outing truly shines.

    Key effects At nearly 2GB of geometry, the spaceship proved too large to load into Maya. Giggle, MPC's scripting language, was used to manipulate the data.

    93 A teenage boy becomes the unwitting co-pilot of a sleek, sliver, spline-based 3D morphing spaceship in this Disney children's favourite.

    Key effects The first use of reflection mapping in a film, to mesh the alien spacecraft into their environments. Graphics researcher C. Robert Hoffman's techniques are still used to good effect today.

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    91 Eschewing the kinetic violence of earlier instalments for the sombre confines of a prison planet, Sigourney Weaver's Ripley returned to face her xenomorphic nemesis once again - this time in a form augmented by Boss Film Studios' Oscar-nominated graphics.

    Key effects The cracking alien head sequence. The movie also included CG shadows for physical models and flying digital debris.

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    90 The second Star Trek movie just beat TRON to the punch to create cinema's first landmark CG visuals, thanks to the terraforming 'Genesis' sequence.

    Key effects Industrial Light & Magic's still-impressive work, created with the help of legendary graphics pioneer Alvy Ray Smith, marked the first use of a fractal landscape in a film.

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    89 DreamWorks' first 3D feature told the story of Z, an ant that dares to go it alone, who is voiced unmistakably - and with added neurosis - by Woody Allen.

    Key effects Proving that DreamWorks could do a 3D film, Antz also broke new ground in simulation with its epic flood sequence, thanks to Nick Foster and PDI's award-winning fluid program, Flu Tools.

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    88 Aardman Animations provided the stop-motion, but the first feature-length outing for Nick Park's clay characters was augmented by MPC's 3D effects.

    Key effects MPC's pixel-perfect blending of 35 CG bunny shots into the film is seamless. Bespoke software even mimicked the effects of animators' fingerprints on the surface of the digital 'clay'.


    87 2010 was a milestone in traditional effects, but this space mission to understand the fate of the USS Discovery One updated it for the digital generation.

    Key effects Stanley Kubrick may have left the helm, but the use of early computer-generated imagery to create thousands of monoliths was pioneering.

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    86 The first in a long line of modern VFX-powered superhero flicks, and a comic book conversion that didn't alienate the fans.

    Key effects The work of Kleiser-Walczak's digital effects artists on Mystique's morphing scenes still impress. The procedural transformations from a live performer to a photorealistic, fully CG character took about five months of work.

    85 From cult hit to effects powerhouse: David Twohy's budget horror sci-fi flick helped launch UK visual effects facility Double Negative.

    Key effects The creature work. Visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang oversaw over 140 shots and 50 artists in the movie's CG set pieces to make the flesh-eating aliens really stand out.

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    84 Director Robert Zemeckis relied on facial and body capture to tell this family-friendly story, based on the kids' book by Chris Van Allsburg, but this train took a detour through the 'Uncanny Valley'.

    Key effects The technique was still to evolve, but this all-performance-captured movie undeniably broke new ground. The question is, will the Academy Awards' judging panel ever recognise such work with an Oscar?


    83 An early outing for Blue Sky in this modern Wesley Snipes vampire flick. The series' 'vampire dusting' scenes would be much aped by later movies.

    Key effects The 100-foot-tall temple oozing with blood and the actors bursting into flames and exploding - although not necessarily bearing any relationship to the laws of physics - were just some of the VFX high points in this big-screen interpretation of the Marvel character.

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    82 It lost the Oscar to Finding Nemo, but this charming film harnessed 3D in the service of a superior story.

    Key effects This touching cycling animation initially used 3D elements to take the strain off the 2D artists, but 3D soon became integral to the look of the film, especially in crowd scenes.

    84 It could never have the impact of the original, but Pixar's sequel to Toy Story is a feat in its own right.

    Key effects The airport and Art Deco apartments were stunning backdrops. However, Woody's 1950s TV show clip took two years, and represented some of the Pixar team's most detailed work to date.

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    83 The historical accuracy of this modern wartime rescue mission may be dubious, but the effects certainly aren't.

    Key effects Alongside Mill Film's work, Asylum's 100-odd VFX shots used Houdini to great effect, creating the helicopters' dusty take-offs, tracer smoke and realistic bullet damage on buildings.

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    79 The turn of the millennium threw up a crop of war movies. As a film, Pearl Harbor was lacklustre, but Industrial Light & Magic's effects were solid.

    Key effects ILM advanced its proprietary Zeno toolset to handle scenes in which realistic fighter planes were required to break into between 300 and 1,000 pieces.


    78 ILM created the film industry's first photorealistic character: the menacing stained glass knight in Barry Levinson's tale of the young British sleuth.

    Key effects The knight was a benchmark in digital effects, opening the doors for future character work. Sadly, John Lasseter and Eric Christensen's creation, featuring a digital comp using David DiFrancesco's laser scanner system, was beaten to an Oscar by Cocoon.

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    77Jurassic Park's sequel upped the ante in tracking and match-lighting, and almost matched its Oscar win.

    Key effects The extensive use of traditional filming movements in the plate photography, such as handheld shots and dolly moves, really showed the industry how to integrate CG elements into dynamic camera work.

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    76 It's not all about the powerhouse US studios, you know. BUF proved that Europe can do VFX too.

    Key effects Pierre Buffin and his BUF Compagnie facility's striking and photorealistic trained fleas and the climatic dream sequence really stand out in the most expensive French film of its time.

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    75 Adding new digital mutant heroes and villains to X-Men's roster, this superior super-powered sequel continued to wow the audiences.

    Key effects Cinesite made Nightcrawler teleport and dematerialise in stages using Maya and Houdini, and a proprietary tool called PartMan to render the tens of millions of smoke particles he left behind.

    74 Spaceships go 3D in Nick Castle's sci-fi fantasy. The movie is widely held to be the first use of CG to represent real-world objects in a movie.

    Key effects Financing, faith and technology had made digital effects in movies viable. Digital Productions used innovative software and the Cray Research Cray X-MP supercomputer to create CG for 300 shots, occupying a then-incredible 27 minutes of screen time.

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    73 With its striking blend of semi-realistic backdrops and cel-shaded characters, Shinji Aramaki's animation also turned heads in the West.

    Key effects Traditional anime got a digital twist in this 3D update of the original manga. Digital Frontier's 70 artists used XSI to push anime into new territories for facial animation and lip-synching.

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    72 At the time the longest ever digital effects shot in a movie, the opening powers-of-10 sequence still holds its own today.

    Key effects Sequence supervisor and amateur astronomer Jay Redd handled the 199-second, 4,710-frame shot, taking viewers through the known universe into the eye of a small girl.

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    71 Lush and painterly in appearance, Vincent Ward's Oscar-winning vision of heaven looks unlike almost any other modern 3D-enhanced movie.

    Key effects Mass.Illusions, in collaboration with Giant Killer Robots, Mobility and ShadowCaster, created the 'painted world': a vision of the afterlife composed of wild floral landscapes whose brushstrokes mimic those of Impressionist paintings.

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    70 French sci-fi fantasy Immortel (Ad Vitam) was released a few months earlier, but writer-director Kerry Conran's retro-futuristic fantasy was the first movie entirely shot on bluescreen that most US audiences saw.

    Key effects No locations, no sets. The stylised, vintage-looking CG backdrops, ranging from Manhattan to Shangri-La, were developed by dozens of VFX facilities, including ILM, The Orphanage and CafeFX.


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    68 Most of Hollywood worked on Michael Bay's blatant blockbuster, but Armageddon's $140 million budget was to prove well spent.

    Key effects Dream Quest Images got an Oscar nomination for its effects, including the villain of the piece: the asteroid, which was created using a model covered in particles representing its emitted gases.

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    Disney had incorporated 3D into films since the 1980s, but the ballroom sequence is the key early example of its potential to augment 2D animation.

    Key effects The fully three-dimensional ballroom contrasted with the beautiful choreography of the conventionally animated foreground characters, and the lighting emanating from the hundreds of candles and the 3D chandelier.

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    The second of DreamWorks' key franchises alongside Shrek, this tale of pampered zoo animals released into the wild redefined squash-and-stretch animation techniques for the 3D age.

    Key effects Drawing as much on the legacy of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery as any Siggraph technical paper, the character animation team used robust visual cues in their work to convey motion and impact.

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    65 Forget Bowie: the owl in the opening sequence is thought to be the first ever photorealistic animal on the big screen.

    Key effects Larry Yaeger and Bill Kroyer at Digital Productions animated and technical directed the award-winning opening title sequence, featuring the CG owl splashing into ripples of water on screen.

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    64 Invisibility (and greenscreen work) has never looked so painful as in this Paul Verhoeven thriller.

    Key effects Tippett Studio's Academy Award nomination for its 155 VFX shots was well deserved. Animating an invisible character's form in water, steam, blood and fire was no mean feat.

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    63 While other movies strove for realism, The Mask was one of the first to use 3D to mimic traditional cartoon-style effects, to gleeful effect.

    Key effects This marked visual effects supervisor Jon Farhat's first foray into wacky graphics, earning him an Oscar nomination along the way. He'd develop this Looney Tunes style in The Nutty Professor.

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    All of the Potter films were VFX-heavy, but the third movie's all-digital werewolf was a new high point.

    Key effects MPC's menacing mythical hound raised the bar for photorealistic creatures through its in-house muscle simulation software, and proprietary tools like Delilah, its fur and hair plugin for Maya.

    61 The natural successor to The Lord of the Rings for the Christmas audience, Narnia features a wild bestiary of digital creatures.

    Key effects R&H's remarkable CG lion Aslan was the product of intensive keyframing techniques and real-world referencing. The studio also created the film's epic closing battle, utilising Massive to handle its 20,000 characters.

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    60 The second Oscar-nominated Ghibli movie after Spirited Away, Howl's centrepiece is its eponymous, monstrous 3D building.

    Key effects To animate the castle's lumbering movements, Studio Ghibli used an FK tree structure, with the body corresponding to the root, and the root movement spreading along the branches to the child objects.

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    58 Spielberg's pet project helped pioneer the on-set visualisation of digital effects, and placed actors freely onto virtual backdrops. The results were suitably slick.

    Key effects ILM used retro-reflective materials and a camera tracking system on-set for the first time in this Oscar-nominated sci-fi movie. It allowed the effects team to view real-time animation as the live camera tracked the shots.

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    57 Mainly featuring stop-motion animation techniques, Tim Burton's best movie of recent times is also subtly augmented by MPC's 3D work.

    Key effects MPC worked on 460 digital shots, removing the stop-motion puppet rigs and rods from the footage, as well as simulating some cloth elements of characters' attire, smoke and CG bats.


    56 Ang Lee's Oscar-winner helped break Wu Xia Pan balletics in the West, thanks to its impressive visual effects work.

    Key effects The LA-based Manex, best know for its Matrix work, contributed by removing the wire from the 'Wire Fu' and adding some subtle VFX to a key scene showing a character running on water.

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    55 Director Chris Nolan may have revived Batman with a return to a darker tone, but Double Negative reinvigorated its digital effects with a slicker touch.

    Key effects By providing a realistic Gotham and seamlessly blending a digital caped crusader with peerless stunt work, Double Negative convinced Nolan that CG could be a viable part of this attempt to restore the Bat-franchise to its former glory.


    67 A return to form for ILM, this summer blockbuster was completed on one of the tightest schedules ever.

    Key effects ILM created 400 invisible effects shots in just 12 weeks, but because it quadrupled its staff the work on smoke-covered dust and broken glass, ambience and camerawork seamlessly blends into the live-action footage.

    53 In Jurassic Park, ILM made giant reptiles walk. But for Dragonheart, they made a Sean Connery-voiced dragon lip-sync too.

    Key effects ILM won a Technical Academy Award for its work, created with its groundbreaking Cari lip-synching software that matched the distinctive brogue of the Scots actor to a fully shaded model of Draco.

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    batman52 Going on to win an Oscar, Spidey's second outing featured better digital cloth and, of course, Doc Ock.

    Key effects For the train fight sequence SPI tweaked its existing approach to cloth simulation with new Maya code from Alias. Now the character's complex and colliding layers of clothing could be simulated together.

    51 Visually distinct from its US precursors, this Aussie 3D feature confirmed the Animal Logic studio as a major player in the feature animation sector.

    Key effects With complex rigging and custom muscle and fat systems, Animal Logic pushed the boundaries in believable character movement. Proprietary crowd tool Horde added vast numbers of extras to some scenes.

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    50 Another major early use of 3D animation within a Disney movie, thanks to the frantic and wildly populated wildebeest stampede.

    Key effects It took Disney three years to write a new program and create the complex two-and-a-half-minute wildebeest stampede, but it set a new benchmark for animated crowd scenes.

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    49 A wide range of weird and wonderful creature effects feature in Industrial Light & Magic's 250-odd VFX shots on this extraterrestrial action blockbuster.

    Key effects The hilarious 'worm guys', the lip-synched pug dog and that epic final shot racing through the unknown universe are all stand-out moments. But subtle achievements in match-moving are noteworthy, too.

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    48 Sony's all-swinging digital Tobey Maguire did whatever a spider could, and helped launch one of VFX's most enduring modern franchises.

    Key effects After body-scanning Maguire, SPI artists sculpted individual muscle details onto the CG model to match the actor's performance. This physical vocabulary was updated throughout the movie as Spidey became more confident in his abilities.


    47 A standout at Siggraph's Electronic Theater this year, Children of Men's virtual childbirth scene packs a visceral punch.

    Key effects Exquisite and palpable touches, such as the steam rising off the new-born CG baby's body as it emerges from the womb, help make the scene both hyper-real and emotionally compelling.

    46 With the effects work on the film rising to over 2,000 shots, Yoda himself went digital in Episode 2.

    Key effects Multi-layered costumes, complex cityscapes, and advanced rigid body simulations all required cutting-edge techniques. And meticulous puppet-referencing and digital lighting was called upon to bring the sprightly 3D Jedi to life.



    45 It may have made it look like 2D, but the sublime Studio Ghibli first experimented with 3D here.

    Key effects The dynamic early attack by the Tatari Gami, a boar god transformed by hatred into a writhing mass of tentacles. The boar itself was hand-drawn, but the tentacles were animated in Softimage|3D and rendered using Michael Arias's Toon Shaders.

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    5844 New York froze over spectacularly in Roland Emmerich's big-budget blockbuster, as many effects shops came together to create apocalyptic VFX.

    Key effects Too many to mention, but Dreamscape's stunning deep-freeze effects for this extreme climate change movie were very cool indeed. To create the new ice age, the studio utilised 3ds Max's procedural texture mapping, modifiers and particle flow systems.


    43 Building on its earlier short Geri's Game, Pixar's second feature-length 3D animation brought subdivision surfaces to the big screen.

    Key effects The modeling work. By using subdivisions to create smoother curves and surfaces, Pixar left traditional spline-based techniques behind and ushered in a new era of 3D modeling technology.

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    58 Nothing in it had quite the impact of bullet time, but the Wachowski brothers' first Matrix sequel marked the first outing for Universal Capture, a high-definition image-based facial performance capture system.

    Key effects The richness of Keanu Reeves' and Laurence Fishburne's facial movements was simulated by producing 3D recordings of their performances. 100-micron scans were used, with the detail extracted onto bump and displacement maps.

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    41 Crowd simulation comes of age in James Cameron's weepy disaster flick. Digital Domain's hundreds of CG actors propelled this Titanic movie to success.

    Key effects The crowds of digital background characters. The DD team motion-captured a small number of actors going through a variety of interactive movements, forming a library of digital shots for use in any number and scale throughout the film.

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    40 The 3D elements that establish the eponymous hero's place as an unwitting participant in the key events of the 20th century are discreet, but they're there.

    Key effects From napalm explosions to frantic CG ping-pong, ILM's journey through the ages has an effects shot for every decade. A masterclass in using CG to sell a story.

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    38 Lots and lots of digital bugs - plus some impressive digital doubles - propelled Paul Verhoeven's satirical space war movie to VFX stardom.

    Key effects To create diversity in the Whiskey Outpost swarm scenes, Tippett Studio's artists varied the bugs' hue, colour and saturation parameters, and mixed between a library of different walk cycles.

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    37 An overlooked gem, Brad Bird's pre-Incredibles take on Ted Hughes' much-loved children's story pioneered cel-shaded 3D on the big screen.

    Key effects To mimic the inked and painted style of traditional 2D animation, the VFX team muted the colour design of the Giant, utilising a light and dark palette with minimal tones.

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    36 The first foreign film to win an Animation Oscar, Spirited Away built on Ghibli's earlier dalliance with 3D.

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    The movie contains over 100 CG shots, with 3D elements largely created in Softimage|XSI. In a key shot in which a fountain of water is thrown up, the water surfaces were rendered entirely in mental ray.

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    35 Notable for the 'superpunch' shot: the first close-up representation of facial deformation on a computer generated human character.

    Key effects The effect of having a full-frame photorealistic impact on a known character's face was achieved by taking a 100-micron scan of a facial plaster cast of actor Hugo Weaving, which was then converted in displacement and bump maps.

    34 Britain's first Oscar win for visual effects, thanks to the sterling work done by The Mill's now-defunct film division on digital crowds in the Colosseum scenes.

    Key effects The CG stadium, created from blueprints and live-action reference images, was rendered in three stages for easier lighting. Around 50 real actors were filmed, then varied and multiplied for the final shot.

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    33 Thanks to new supervillains Venom and Sandman, the latest Spider-Man movie raised the bar on Sony's VFX work yet again.

    Key effects A whole raft of sub-tools were created in SPI's custom sand-simulation software to allow Sandman's digital particles to behave just like the real thing, reacting differently according to whether they were wet or dry.

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    32 Winner of 1996's Oscar, Independence Day's massed 3D ships and planes still hold up to scrutiny today.

    Key effects VisionArt and its proprietary particle system/compositor, Sparky, were brought in for the dogfight scenes, but ended up taking on around 85 shots, including the destruction of the mothership.

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    31 ILM's aquatic 'pseudopod' alien took 3D graphics to a new level for James Cameron's undersea thriller.

    Key effects To create the effect of the water-filled creature mirroring the faces of the actors, the ILM team digitised their faces and morphed them in software originally developed for the film Willow.

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    30 Mamoru Oshii went on to embrace 3D in bigger ways, but it all started with this futuristic police thriller.

    Key effects The Matrix-predating opening titles. The sequence features short glimpses of a 3D cyborg character under construction, intercut with 2D shots.

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    29 No Oscar this time for Pixar, but the animation still gets your motor running in John Lasseter's latest 3D feature.

    Key effects The panoramic digital landscapes. For locations that hosted several scenes, Pixar's artists created thorough virtual environments so the camera had more freedom to roam.

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    28 Cursed pirates turn from humans to skeletons to startling effect in Gore Verbinski's ocean-going comedy.

    Key effects Entire scenes were shot with real actors for reference, so that the CG crew of the Black Pearl crew precisely mirrored their real-world counterparts.

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    4727 The film that brought anime to the US box office also features some early 3D, in its 'Lego bricks' sequence.

    Key effects The blocks in the dream sequence were animated in 3D to plot the way they would fall, rendered as outlines, then traced over by hand.

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    26 A surprise worldwide hit, the virtual creatures of Pan's Labyrinth charm and unnerve with equal frequency.

    Key effects Pan himself, the messenger insect, and the nightmare-inducing Pale Man. CafeFX used a mix of software, including XSI, Maya and LightWave 3D.


    25 Advancing the cause of 3D pre-viz, I, Robot featured some superb effects work from a clutch of major shops.

    Key effects One scene in this cautionary sci-fi thriller called for Will Smith to walk amongst 1,000 NS-5 robots. Parallax issues made it impossible accomplish by texture projection, so full 3D models were used.


    24 It was overlooked at the Oscars, but Luc Besson's camp space romp was recently named one of the Visual Effects Society's top 50 movies.

    Key effects Besson recruited DD's 55-man crew to handle some 200 shots, including sequences on 3D sets on board a model of a 2,000-foot interstellar ocean liner, hovering above an all-digital water planet.

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    23 Even more effects-heavy than its precursors, the final Pirates movie looks a good bet for an Oscar next year.

    Key effects Water simulation reached new heights in the maelstrom scene. Using a tweaked fluid simulator based on Stanford University technology, ILM created 15 billion gallons with stunning clarity and controllability.

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    22 David Fincher's anarchic quest for truth and destruction revolutionised the use of photogrammetry and 3D previsualisation in cinema.

    Key effects BUF's impossible camera sequences created moving 3D animations based on 2D reference photos. Some required three-day shoots in order to collect enough material to work with.

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    21 Blue Sky's prehistoric creature feature debut marked the emergence of a third major player in the landscape of American all-CG features.

    Key effects The lighting and rendering. The studio's proprietary renderer, dubbed CGI Studio, has been refined over the years, and its groundbreaking support of radiosity and raytracing techniques gave Ice Age's largely exterior shots their distinct look.

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    20 The opening space battle set the tone for a VFX blockbuster. General Grievous was the icing on the cake.

    Key effects Killer cyborg Grievous was designed so that during a fight a rigid body simulation could animate any cut-off parts. The model comprised 4,591 NURBS surfaces for a total of 435,186 CVs.

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    19 DreamWorks' second CG feature introduced audiences to Mike Myers' loveable ogre, and launched the studio's biggest animation franchise to date.

    Key effects The amorous fire-breathing dragon. Digital fire could have been hard to blend with cartoon backgrounds, but DreamWorks managed it with aplomb.

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    18 The film that brought CG to the attention of the masses. MAGI's Light Cycles became a cultural icon.

    Key effects TRON's 15 minutes of CG still remain a landmark, despite the comparatively crude technology on offer. Even the largest machine used in the effects work possessed a meagre 2MB of memory.

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    17 Pixar's fourth feature is a joy throughout. Sulley's fur was later used to demo the benefits of RenderMan.

    Key effects The fur on the John Goodman-voiced hairy scarer was composed of almost three million strands, Pixar's proprietary fur-dynamics system gave full control over density, lighting and movement of each one.


    16 No Oscar, but Sin City's digital backdrops later propelled it to the Visual Effects Society's top 50 films of all time.

    Key effects The fidelity with which the VFX artists recreated the style of Frank Miller's original graphic novel. Typical work involved raising the contrast of the source images, judicious use of black and white and adding false perspectives afterwards.

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    15 One of the key visual effects movies of recent years, thanks to its performance-captured scurvy sea dogs.

    Key effects The crew of the Flying Dutchman. Armed with the motion data of the actors captured during principal photography, ILM created 18 hero characters and 32 variations to crew the ship, which was itself sometimes CG.

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    14 Pixar's fifth full CG feature showcased some impressive undersea lighting and rendering techniques. The Oscar was just a formality.

    Key effects Using visual cues such as the shafts of light breaking through the water's surface and tiny suspended particles reacting against the characters, the animators captured a real sense of movement.

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    13 Weta continued on its Oscar run, taking Kong's fur simulation and facial animation to new levels of realism along the way.

    Key effects Kong's movements were captured via Andy Serkis' live performance. 56 optical markers were typically used for the body, or 80 when tracking his fingers. An additional 135 were placed on his face.



    12 Gollum may have already featured in the previous movie, but the world's best-known virtual character truly turned heads here.

    Key effects The mysterious and compelling Gollum becomes more physically believable in the second part of the LOTR trilogy thanks to Bay Raitt's facial animation system. New subsurface scattering shaders were used for the skin.


    11 Succeeding where Brad Bird's previous film, The Iron Giant, failed, this everyday of superpowered folk is perhaps still Pixar's finest achievement to date.

    Key effects The sublimely flexible Mrs Incredible, formerly known as Elastigirl. Pixar developed a new spline-based deformer with a 'stable twist vector' to handle the incredible shapes the character model needed to be stretched into.


    10 What the original Star Wars trilogy was to traditional effects, Peter Jackson's LOTR was to 3D. All three movies in the trilogy make our Top 100.

    Key effects The battle sequence with the cave troll is notable for its kinetic camerawork. The constant movement, dynamic viewpoints and accurate tracking all help to build a nail-biting level of tension.



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    9 Square's all-CG feature pioneered top-notch, near-photoreal animation techniques, but its characters ultimately fell foul of the Uncanny Valley.

    Key effects The motion-captured, oh-so-nearly-photorealistic characters. Square constructed its own 16,000-square-foot capture stage, using a 16-camera set-up to track 37 articulation points for each actor.

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    8 Michael Bay's robotic battle royale featured some incredibly complex character rigs, courtesy of ILM.

    Key effects The robots, naturally. Autobot leader Optimus Prime alone has 10,108 separate parts. The animators used multi-segmented parts for the lips and a turbine system for the eyes to simulate pupil dilation.

    CGSociety story
    7 Described as "the best children's movie ever", Pixar's everyday tale of a rodent chef loose in a Parisian kitchen has been garnering rave reviews.

    Key effects Hair, fur and fluid simulations - the latter used on the foodstuffs such as soups and sauces.

    CGSociety story
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    100
    Apollo 13

    99
    SUPERMAN RETURNS

    98
    MARS ATTACKS!

    97
    TOTAL RECALL

    96
    MONSTER HOUSE

    95
    TWISTER

    94
    SUNSHINE

    93
    FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR

    92
    THE LAWNMOWER MAN

    91
    Alien3

    90
    STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN

    89
    ANTZ

    88
    WALLACE AND GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

    87
    2010

    86
    X-MEN

    85
    PITCH BLACK

    84
    THE POLAR EXPRESS

    83
    BLADE

    82
    THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE

    81
    TOY STORY 2

    80
    BLACK HAWK DOWN

    79
    PEARL HARBOR

    78
    YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES

    77
    THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK

    76
    THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN

    75
    X2: X-Men United

    74
    THE LAST STARFIGHTER

    73
    APPLESEED

    72
    CONTACT

    71
    WHAT DREAMS MAY COME

    70
    SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW

    69
    GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE

    68
    ARMAGEDDON

    67
    BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


    66
    MADAGASCAR

    65
    Labyrinth

    64
    HOLLOW MAN

    63
    THE MASK

    62
    HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

    61
    THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

    60
    HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

    59
    SHREK 2

    58
    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: AI

    57
    THE CORPSE BRIDE

    56
    CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

    55
    BATMAN BEGINS

    54
    WAR OF THE WORLDS

    53
    DRAGONHEART

    52
    SPIDER-MAN 2

    51
    HAPPY FEET

    50
    THE LION KING

    49
    MEN IN BLACK

    48
    SPIDER-MAN

    47
    CHILDREN OF MEN

    46
    STAR WARS: EPISODE 2 - ATTACK OF THE CLONES

    45
    PRINCESS MONONOKE

    44
    THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

    43
    A BUG'S LIFE

    42
    THE MATRIX RELOADED

    41
    TITANIC

    40
    FORREST GUMP

    39
    STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE

    38
    STARSHIP TROOPERS

    37
    THE IRON GIANT

    36
    SPIRITED AWAY

    35
    THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS

    34
    GLADIATOR


    33
    SPIDER-MAN 3

    32
    INDEPENDENCE DAY

    31
    THE ABYSS

    30
    GHOST IN THE SHELL

    29
    CARS

    28
    PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL

    27
    AKIRA

    26
    PAN'S LABYRINTH

    25
    I, ROBOT

    24
    THE FIFTH ELEMENT

    23
    PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

    22
    FIGHT CLUB

    21
    ICE AGE

    20
    STAR WARS: EPISODE 3 - REVENGE OF THE SITH

    19
    SHREK

    18
    TRON

    17
    MONSTERS, INC.

    16
    SIN CITY

    15
    PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST

    14
    FINDING NEMO

    13
    KING KONG

    12
    THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

    11
    THE INCREDIBLES

    10
    THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

    9
    FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN

    8
    TRANSFORMERS

    7
    RATATOUILLE

    6
    TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

    5
    THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

    4
    TOY STORY

    3
    300

    2
    JURASSIC PARK

    1
    THE MATRIX
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