Movies. Everybody has their favorite. Among the things most memorable about them is the technology. The technology these movies portrayed made them alluring in their day. But what seemed like merely cinematic inventions went on to influence how modern films were made. These innovations made the movies all the more believable, real, and downright awesome—putting these 5 movies ahead of their time.
1) Blade Runner (1982): It’s arresting visual effects included layering, which captured the level of detail on everything from a door of a bus to parking meters and magazines. Another stunning display was the ‘shining eyes effect,’ invented by Fritz Lang. In the “Schufftan Process,” light is bounced into the actors’ eyes off a piece of half-mirrored glass mounted at a forty-five degree angle to the camera. Oil refineries shot flames in the opening sequence, showing the Tyrell Corporation’s pyramid in model form before melting off camera. Influencing modern technology, a specially created Voight-Kampff machine—also a model—predated the biometric devices seen at airports and military bases.
2) Tron (1982): The prequel to the 2010 movie, Tron: Legacy (2010), was the first film to use computer generated technology. The way computers and technology came together in its making is truly revolutionary. Moreover, it was the first to use high-resolution digital imagery. Several scenes used computer animation, especially for the scenes actually inside the computer.
3) Star Wars (1977): This was the first movie to ever use computer generated special effects, famously put in play by Industrial Light & Magic. Part IV of George Lucas’ film series, the space opera contains such memorable examples as the explosion of the Death Star at the end. The final battle over the Death Star was reminiscent of WWII dogfights, a method which became the pre-visualization “animatics” of today. The film was also the first that made use of Dolby Stereo effectively.
4) Avatar (2009): The main innovation was a stereoscopic, or 3-D, camera developed by director James Cameron himself. This was the first movie to be shot with a 3-D camera, to be released in 3-D, and released in IMAX 3-D. It later went on to influence movies like Tron: Legacy (2010) and in its use of 3-D and CGI. Movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) use Avatar-esque performance capture. Avatar is also the first completely digitally shot movie.
5) Jurassic Park (1993): Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a Lucasfilm company, made the special visual effects of the full-motion dinosaurs. Director Steven Spielberg used a combination of physically textured computer generated images (CGI) and animatronics for the dinosaur scenes. Audiences nationwide saw the formerly extinct reptiles in a new way as a result. Four of the fourteen minutes of dinosaurs were pure CGI, as was a “stunt double” for the T-Rex toilet-chomping scene. Six years later, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) made full use of CGI for nearly every scene.