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Animation: VFX

Paddington
Paddington

Animation can sometimes feature in live action films, often without the audience realising (at least that is the goal of the filmmakers). Whether it's astoundingly convincing CG animals, so real that they can interact with human beings and express emotions in a totally immersive way; depicting futuristic worlds; or even finding ways to convincingly place characters in an alien setting without the use of green screen, animation finds its way into a lot more films than you might imagine. As technology develops, the lines between animation and live action will only become increasingly blurred, and animated characters will be able to express more personality and heart than ever before. 

We also have film lists on hand-drawn animation3D/CGI animationstop-motioncut-out animationrotoscoping, and the history of animation.

The Wizard of Oz

CertU

Age group7+

Duration98 mins

The Wizard of Oz(1939)

This timeless family musical, one of cinema's much loved productions, sees young Dorothy escape Kansas for the Technicolor land of Oz.

A matte painting is a painted representation of a landscape, set, or distant location that allows filmmakers to create the illusion of an environment not present at the filming location. An early, iconic example of this is the land of Oz , most notably in Dorothy’s approach to Emerald City.

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration115 mins

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark(1981)

Crazed Nazis, sword-waving Egyptians and a snake-pit are some of the obstacles faced by adventurer Indiana Jones in his quest to find a sacred relic.

A later example of a famous matte painting is at the end of the first Indiana Jones adventure in the secret government warehouse. The filmmakers used a combination of live-action footage of an actor with the background painted on glass by special effects wizards.

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Young Sherlock Holmes

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration104 mins

Young Sherlock Holmes(1985)

Mystery adventure which imagines what famous detective Sherlock Holmes was like as a boy, showing him called upon to solve a professor's murder.

Nowadays, backgrounds are almost always created digitally. The first film to feature a digital matte painting was this teenage version of the famous Baker Street detective for a scene featuring a knight leaping from a stain-glassed window.

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Where The Wild Things Are

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration99 mins

Where The Wild Things Are(2009)

Spike Jonze's live action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's classic about tameable monsters and an angry little boy.

Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the beloved children’s book featured a host of big, grotesque creatures. Originally intended to be computer animated, it was eventually made as live action, with actors in light costumes. Once filming was completed, the visual effects team took over the animate the characters and provide them with heart and emotion.

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War Horse

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration141 mins

War Horse(2011)

The friendship between 16-year-old farmer’s son Albert and his horse Joey is violently shattered by the outbreak of the First World War.

The original stage show of Michael Morpurgo’s WW1 drama was famously created using elaborate puppets, but such an approach would never work on screen. Nor could a real animal be subjected to such dangers. A few of the shots were created digitally, with the animation team working on conveying the horses’s facial movements, gallop, and nostril flare in minute detail.

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Paddington

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration91 mins

Paddington(2014)

Charming family film about an accident prone young bear from Peru arriving in London and searching for a new home.

Such was the impact of the work achieved by the animation team at VFX company Framestore, audiences around the world immediately accepted the Peruvian bear as convincingly living and walking around the streets of London. Not only that, his character was infused with texture, detail, emotion, and a great deal of heart.

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Life of Pi

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration121 mins

Life of Pi(2012)

The extraordinary story of Pi who, cast adrift on a lifeboat with only a tiger for company, must find his inner strength and courage to survive.

A story of astonishing visuals and emotion, Ang Lee’s adaptation of the fantasy novel was faced with one huge challenge: creating a convincing 3D tiger to interact with our hero and do battle with dramatic storms at sea. The result is one of the great artistic achievements of CG animation.

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Tomorrowland

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration130 mins

Tomorrowland(2015)

Sci-fi action adventure lead by an inquisitive teenage girl and a former boy-genius in a race against time to save our future.

There now seems no limit to what can be displayed on screen. In Tomorrowland, an entire city, with all its vibrancy was created, finally bringing Walt Disney’s futuristic vision to life. Not only that, it was created in three different time zones, 1964, 1984 and 2014.

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Ex Machina

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration104 mins

Ex Machina(2014)

A taut sci-fi thriller exploring the popular debate about whether Artificial Intelligence could ever match humankind's capacity to think and feel.

Made on a relatively low budget compared to most Hollywood blockbusters, this film nevertheless features one of the most convincing and spellbinding creations of artificial intelligence ever seen on screen, an utterly seamless blend of live action and VFX, not just on the screen, but on a character’s body.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration136 mins

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2(2017)

The ragtag gang of Guardians find themselves torn when someone from Peter’s past surfaces with an offer that may be too good to be true.

One of the hallmarks of many recent superhero films has been the “de-ageing” of actors, in order to flashback to an earlier part of their life. A particularly impressive example is Kurt Russell’s character here, a feat that was actually achieved with a combination of animation trickery and old-fashioned practical makeup.

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Blade Runner 2049

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration163 mins

Blade Runner 2049(2017)

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner unearths a dark secret which threatens the future of humanity.

One of the most anticipated and closely scrutinized sequels of recent years, this long awaited follow-up to the 1982 original was tasked with creating a futuristic world based not on our real world, but that of the earlier film. Animators worked on many aspects of the film including the creation of a future Vegas and the dystopian region of Trash Mesa.

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