Here’s What You Didn’t Know Was CGI

1190 ViewsBlogCGI


CGI is heavily criticised, a simple Google search brings up suggestions including “Why is CGI so expensive” “Why is CGI so bad”. As fighters of the cause, we always refer back to this example though, that CGI is only bad when you notice it. Great CGI tricks you into thinking there is no CGI at all.



Examples of this are not few and far between, everyday we will come across CGI we never knew was CGI. Here is a list of 9 everyday things that are created digitally.




Almost every single car advert you see on TV will not feature an actual car – they are created in CGI.


This is The Blackbird. The Blackbird is a powerful tool which helps create a CGI car around the basic rig. Why bother at all, if you are using CGI anyway I hear you cry. Creators of The Blackbird, The Mill say that The most critical aspects for making a CGI car look real, are the vehicle’s driving sequences and its wheels. Both of those are malleable with the Blackbird.



Of course, this is also used all the time in films – car chases especially, but it seems more surprising in an everyday car commercial.


Often, the final look of the car needs to be tweaked, colours may change, and sometimes it is just too costly to get several of their brand new cars to a location to film. The blackbird allows for flexibility on all these fronts, quite often at a cheaper cost.


Basically everything you see in a Catalogue


One small IKEA bedside table is enough hassle to put together, so why bother spending millions of hours DIY-ing an entire catalogue?  


Today, at least 75% of IKEA’s product catalogues are CGI, and they aren’t the only ones. Most kitchen, bedroom and bathroom companies now use CGI to create their marketing material and no one has realised. Once these assets have been created, they can be re-used and tweaked – there is no rigidity in being tied to a particular colour, texture, shape or size. Previously each of these adjustments would have needed a whole new photo shoot.




Yes, that’s right. Rather than risk salads wilting, ice cubes melting and food generally perishing under the heat of studio lights, it is often created in CGI. For a product shot – the set up of the perfectly arranged meal next to a glistening drink ready for you to consume, this isn’t so surprising. When an actor needs to take a bite, this is when it gets a little more complicated.


This ad for Carls Jr became infamous due to its clearly CGI burger. The video was since taken down, and replaced with a new slightly improved version. Why he didn’t just eat an actual burger, we may never know.



One surprise the other way though, is that the Marks and Spencer food ads don’t use any CGI at all. All those perfect tomato slices flying through the air and spinning eggs were captured for real.




The trouble with shooting a phone, is that you want them to look shiny and brand new, but you don’t want to get an awful glare in every shot. Actors will either interact with a real phone or a temporary block in the same shape and size for it to be added in later. Any shots where the phone is “free” will be CGI, almost guaranteed. How much do you think of this ad is real?



Yeah, none of it.




You just cannot rely on the weather, can you? Why bother when you don’t need to. Rain, snow, sun, hail, fog, mist, sleet are all often added in post. Film crews actually prefer it when the conditions are overcast, meaning there are no shadows that move, and the sun doesn’t go behind clouds during takes.




Very often, films and TV programmes will want to create the effect of shooting within a city, but for many reasons (logistics, cost, the city does not actually exist) they shoot in the middle of nowhere (or of course, a studio), and the city comes in later.

Below is a great videos with loads of examples of this – and a few examples of other items on the list.





Can’t get an actor to cry on demand? Not to worry! It is said to be true that during the post production of Blood Diamond, it was decided that an artificial tear be adding to Jennifer Connelly’s face during an emotional phone call with Leonardo DiCaprio. As with creating entirely CGI characters (sometimes after an actor has died) people argue this interferes with the nuances of a performance – is this taking CGI too far?




No, not that kind.


Often, actors are playing sportspeople, and are… not sportspeople. During the filming of Wimbledon, Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany had to pass for professional tennis players with only a few months training. To make this easier, they would perform a shot, but the actual tennis ball would be added in during post production. This meant they weren’t required to return an actual shot, but focus on getting the look of the swing right.


In Forrest Gump, the ping pong was also added in digitally afterwards – Tom Hanks sadly was not, a natural ping pong phenomenon. 




It is not cheap to hire hundreds or maybe even thousands of extras to take part in a crowd scene. Crowds are almost always created in CGI, whether it’s during a football ad or a battle scene.



There are other options, though. One company, The Inflatable Crowd Company makes inflatable life size (super creepy) models, with 3D faces and dressed in wigs, hats and other props. You will have seen these creepy characters in films such as Iron Man 2, The King’s Speech, Blades of Glory, Ocean’s 13, The Prestige and Million Dollar Baby.


So there you have it – 9 times CGI crops up in everyday scenarios.