Visual Effects of Awesome (Sugar Wiki)

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Admit it.

When the White House got blown up and the Empire State Building got incinerated, you wanted to turn on the news and make sure that they were still there. When that first T-Rex roared you had to fight the urge to run out the chair. You spent years wondering where the casting department found those talking trees and just what the hell kind of stuntwoman could really get her head to turn a full 360 degrees. You really did believe a man could fly, and shouted Hallelujah as the cliffs floated by.

This is the work of Visual Effects artists. Some should be called Visual Effects Geniuses. For some reason, most of them are called employees of Industrial Light and Magic, but that's another story.....

The unique properties of film and video allow people to contrive images of things that aren't actually there, or aren't actually happening. Some are things that are impossible, like, say, liquid metal that can mimic people and objects. Others happened at a time long ago, like ancient Roman battles. Others can and do happen all the time, but are too difficult to actually film, like a train derailment for instance.

The advent of computer technology has allowed film and television to reach a point where it seems ANYthing that can be imagined can be filmed. Surprisingly though, visual effects go back to the very beginning of filmed work. Some of the methods used are surprisingly low-tech, they include animation, double exposure of film, models and stop-motion. Some are so effective, they are used even today.

There are plenty examples of bad attempts. These are the Crowning Moments of Awesome; the visual effects achievements that have set the standard. And helped sell tons of tickets.

When this standard applies to everything, from historical accuracy and technical competence, this would be called Doing It for the Art.

Compare it to Scenery Porn/Awesome Art and Technology Porn. See also Demoscene

Examples of Visual Effects of Awesome (Sugar Wiki) include:


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Anime[edit | hide]

  • Blood: The Last Vampire is one of the most disturbingly realistic, ultra-fluent pieces of animation out there. At times you really don't know if it's CG, digitally animated or actually filmed material.
  • Afro Samurai. Both it, its compilation movie, and the video game adaptation. It has perhaps some of the most stunning, mind-bending visuals ever produced. Yes, even Gorn is beautiful here.
  • Anything Studio BONES produces. Just watch the opening to Ouran High School Host Club and tell me you didn't climax to all the awesome.
  • The Rebuild of Evangelion series certainly qualifies. While anime and animation in general has a reputation of having really cool special effects (helped by the fact that they don't have to worry about inserting live action actors into the shot) the first Rebuild movie stands out because if it weren't for the characters' heads and a slight color change a lot of scenes and character models would be indistinguishable from Real Life.
  • The original Neon Genesis Evangelion itself had some spectacular-looking battles, which can be further appreciated by the fact the series was made on a very tight budget.
  • Karas. Along with the above-mentioned Evangelion 1.11, it is one of the most beautiful anime ever created.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann certainly qualifies. Gainax is probably the only anime studio that can take a battle between two robots in space, a concept that's been used hundreds of times, and make it look so overwhelming. I mean... freaking galaxies are being thrown and blown up, the special attacks become more devastating with each move and Gurren Lagann JUST. KEEPS. GROWING. Trust me, it's Better Than It Sounds.
  • Summer Wars. Oh my ......... The scene where Love Machine rises into his One-Winged Angel form is what my dreams are made of
  • 5 Centimeters Per Second. The Scenery Porn is overwhelming! Current poster movie for Cherry Blossom and Scenery Porn.
  • Akira is gorgeously animated throughout, but the best animation has to be Tetsuo's mutation. That scene definitely would not have been as effectively horrific if it had been handled by lesser animators. And did we mention that the film wasn't animated by any computers whatsoever?
  • Paprika. In terms of both technical quality and pure visual imagination.
  • The transformation sequences from 80% of Magical Girl anime.
  • Red Line. Just, RED, FREAKING, LINE! It's so beyond the impossible in this, and action, it makes Gurren Lagann's feats of awesome seem like an everday occurance, and the visuals show that, too.
  • When the Pokémon Contest battles and appeal rounds (special mention goes to the Grand Festival) in the Diamond and Pearl series are one thing, the upgraded effects and animation in Unova have skyrocketed to coolness levels off the freakin' charts.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya. The Yuki v. Asakura battle.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie First. Every. Single. Second. of. it. The Nanoha series is known for having good animation and detailed fight scenes, but The Movie takes it to another level entirely. The animation quality is so incredible, so vast, so amazingly detailed, that it must be seen in order to be believed. It makes the animation of the original series that it's retelling look several decades older than it actually is.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is the single greatest example of this trope in the Gundam franchise. It is expected that an OVA series has higher quality, but the amazing detail of every fight is awe-inspiring.
  • The silver eyes and Awakened Beings in Claymore.
  • Naruto Shippuden really started ramping up its appearance in the Pain Arc, specifically episode 166-167. The story of Naruto's birth was portrayed in movie-quality animation, and the beginning of the Fourth Great Ninja War mixed a little CG into the awesomeness.
  • I can't believe no one mentioned Kara no Kyoukai: and Fate/Zero. These two blow all the above competition out of the water.

Film[edit | hide]

  • James Cameron's Avatar pretty much defines this trope. It might be Pocahontas IN SPACE but the Beast meets Abe Sapien Na'vi look pretty darn good.
    • There had been lots of motion-capture characters in film, but be honest: the Na'vi were the first ones you'd actually want to have sex with.
    • Not to mention the holographic maps Parker uses and all the other screens in the base.
      • And the forest, particularly at night in a world full of bioluminescence, and the flying machines and creatures, and Sam Worthington's convincingly atrophied legs.
    • One of the most impressive things about the effects was the way the CG characters interacted with the live action ones. In particular the sequence between Jake and Neteri when she sees Jake's human body for the first time. Jake touches Neteri's Face and Neteri holds Jake's hand, and it looks perfectly seamless.
    • The 3D was simply revolutionary. This was the first 3D movie with a truly progressive depth of field as opposed to a succession of fairly flat layers with a few gimmicky objects being waved in the audience's face.
    • Not the first. Coraline did a good job of it months before, though there are one or two jump-outs.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger was shot with 90% PRACTICAL EFFECTS. How bloody awesome is that? Scenes like the train scene, any of the shield tossing scenes, and the on foot street chase (which uses slowed frame rates to make it appear as if the titular character is running and jumping really fast) are just bone-chillingly awesome as a result. In addition, Johnston shot the film in 2D with 3D in mind so he could ensure careful attention to detail for the 3D conversion was paid. The result is an awesome practical effects driven film that is awesome watching it, and even looking insanely awesome in 3D, despite being post-converted.
    • The 3D conversion itself was raved about when released in cinemas. Many thought the film was shot in 3D, it looked so bloody awesome. When seen in UltraAVX cinemas, one can't help but be blown away.
      • Further, the scene where the shield swings into the camera before heading into the base near the end is so well done, it'll make you jump out of your seat.
    • While a lot of it falls because of the actor, the visual effects used to show a pre Super-Soldier Serum Steve Rogers is pretty impressive. Rather than paste Evans's head onto a scrawnier actor, they actually slimmed him down using SFX, and it's quite convincing.
  • The Fall - I can't even fathom how the director pulled this movie off with NO CGI WHATSOEVER. Just about any scene in the film could be framed and put in an art museum. It's THAT beautiful. Then you take into account that shooting took 4 years, and Over 20 Countries, and the fact that the film is great is a fucking miracle.
    • Ditto for Bram Stokers Dracula, released in 1992. Mind you this film was released in 1992 when computer effects were beginning to make their big boom in the film industry.
  • Say what you will about The Last Airbender, but this troper thinks that Industrial Lights and Magic really outdid themselves in the visual effects department, despite a sloppily-adapted screenplay and 3D footage that looked like it was tacked on at the last minute. Just look at these fight scenes and tell me that they are fake.
  • Rango: Holy Fuck, Rango. By Industrial Light and Magic, this is one of the most detailed animated films ever. And it is beautiful.
  • Mulan had some amazing CG effects such as the Hun army barging down on the outmatched Imperial Army was a truly amazing piece of animation, and terrifying.
  • How to Train Your Dragon. Some of the most well-animated hair and fur Dreamworks has produced (checkout the Badass beard on Stoic the Vast), as well as eyes that obviously had irises BEHIND a transparent cornea, as opposed to painted on top of a ping-pong ball shape and stuck into the sockets. Not to mention Hiccup's WET hair. Each character also moved in a unique fashion, and ZOMFG The Green Death
    • The flying scenes especially had enough details to qualify as more than just Rule of Cool dragonriding. When Toothless wasn't being cartoony, his behavior and movements were incredibly realistic, down to his pupils widening and shrinking slightly when he blinked.
  • Some Buster Keaton films contain astonishing sequences created by the simplest means.
  • Jacob's Ladder. None of the visual effects are optical. None. It's entirely "real".
  • People still have to remind themselves that the Alien isn't a real creature. The dripping saliva, especially in the first movie, makes it difficult.
    • Hell, most of Aliens still looks incredible today, with virtually no special effect failure at all. Even the fact that it's now 80s Zeerust hasn't dampened how awesome it is.
      • It should be noted that in the climactic fight, half of it consists of miniature models of the powerloader and Alien Queen parrying back and forth. The editing is so good that it's nigh-impossible to tell which are miniature shots and which are the full-size props.
      • The loader-units were so well done that the film-makers were contacted by companies hoping to procure some for heavy cargo lifting. Alas.
      • And in the red corner, the Alien Queen puppet remains, to this day, the most amazing animatronic ever created. That thing is mind-blowingly awesome and scary as shit!
      • Seconded. That's what happens when you give life to something that was inspired by H. R. Giger.
    • The Nightmare Fuel monstrosity, the Alien Newborn. You know the one I'm talking about. It was so realistic and scary. The part where it goes through the space door and gets gored, is absolutely authentic but nasty.
  • For all the stunning visual effects in Titanic, the best has to be the engine room. Anyone who saw those churning, thumping steam turbines would've sworn they filmed a real steam engine room.
    • Well, they did. They shot footage of the engine room of the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, one of the two operational examples of reciprocating engined ships left, and then blew it up on a green screen that they filmed the engineers against. Note that the Titanic's engines were much larger than the Jeremiah O'Brien's.
  • Any and all space battles in Star Wars, but most of all the final flight inside the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
    • The AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back.
    • Speaking of Empire, say hi to Darth Vader's new ride. Rebel pants-soiling ensues.
    • Revenge of the Sith's opening sequence. Calm flyover of a lone Star Destroyer, two fighters appear, then just as they look down below the Star Destroyer, WAR! In a long take, you have two fighters winding their way through a massive warzone. The juxtaposition of sedate view vs. intense warzone is a reminder that Lucas is a hell of a visual director.
      • Ladies and Gentlemen. Did you know that the minute-long battle between Anakin and Obi-wan took over 700 days to complete? And it was wonderful, wasn't it?
    • While the space battle in Return of the Jedi is impressive on its own, it becomes a thing of beauty when considering that every single ship on screen is a model, the incredible sense of scale created with these tiny little things.
      • Tiny, huh? Even more impressive is the fact that the Star Destroyer models were around 2.5 meters long—and moved smoothly.
    • No Clone Trooper suits were built for Episodes II and III. Yes, they're all Serkis Folk. The effects are that realistic!
    • These days it's more obvious that the Yoda from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi is a puppet. But what a puppet! Star Wars special effects have become somewhat dated, but even now they don't hold up terribly at all.
      • It should be noted that at the time, there was actually a small movement that attempted to get Frank Oz nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Yoda.
      • You think Yoda was an impressive puppet? If you're looking for an impressive puppet in the Star Wars trilogy, look no further than Jabba the Hutt!
    • The original and the best, the opening of A New Hope.
    • Any and all lightsaber battles from the latter two prequels (and possibly Phantom Menace too, it's been a while since I last saw it). Yes, some of it is just fight choreography, but Yoda? Completely CG creation.
  • It's been said that the special effects in Apollo 13 were so awesome, NASA asked the producers if they could use it. These guys really showed their work.
    • The production crew brought in old mission controllers to see the reproduction of mission control, and there are various quotes to the effect of "someone would ask where I lived and I would point in the direction of my house -- if I were in mission control in Houston" and "I would leave the set at the end of the day and look for the elevator, because the real mission control was on the third floor"
  • The Harry Potter film series managed to utilize and IMPROVE UPON this trope since Sorcerer's Stone. Just try to say you didn't gasp in awe at the Wizard Chess, the Anaconda escaping from the London Zoo scenes, as well as the final duel between Harry and Quirrel/ Voldemort in the first film.
  • The titular robots in Transformers (2007) are Technology Porn incarnate. The sheer jaw-dropping complexity of the robots and their millions of moving parts makes it hard to believe that a human being actually designed that thing. And then you realize the visual effects designers had to invent entirely new technology to get it done, a leap that hadn't been made since Jurassic Park.
    • The Oscars have lost some of their respectability over the years, but I think it died for good when Transformers lost "Best Special Effects" to The Golden Compass. Even the Fan Dumb haters of the movie felt it was stupid.
    • Revenge of the Fallen is apparently to take this Up to Eleven. Devastator's CG model is apparently so bloody complicated that it MELTED an animator's computer.
      • One wonders how they'd safely done the stunts in the film without some of the stunt people getting injured by giant moving pieces of metal...and then you remember all the robots were CGI.
      • Oh and An upgraded Optimus Prime beats the special effects off The Fallen. That's right he beats all the remarkable effects and CGI off the villain until he looks like a crash test dummy tank. Doesn't get better than that, nice work studios.
      • From IMDB: "A single IMAX shot in the movie would have taken almost 3 years to render on a top of the line home PC running nonstop. If you rendered the entire movie on a modern home PC, you would have had to start the renders 16,000 years ago (when cave paintings like the Hall of Bulls were being made) to finish for this year's premiere." Daaaaaammmmmnnnnn.
      • Dark of The Moon takes it one step further with an all out alien invasion and the appearance of Driller, a machine that is not only bigger then Devastator (In both size and piece count), but the scene in which it destroys a building towards the end took ILM's top performance computers close to an hour to load. (also, it took up the entire ILM render farm to be finished!)
  • There are points in watching Finding Nemo when you can't tell what's computer graphics and what's real ocean.
    • Here's a hint: it's all computer graphics.
    • Also traits of the ocean characters in the movie were based off actual marine biology. Seriously if you research the fish, you'll find that almost all of it is accurate, minus the extra intellegence and Carnivore Confusion, of course.
    • According to the Making Of documentary, as part of the research for this movie Andrew Stanton got some real underwater footage and challenged the animators to duplicate it. When the results were screened a few days later, Stanton couldn't tell which clips were original and which were animated.
    • He actually told them to 'tone it down' because it looked too real. wow Pixar. wow.
      • It's Pixar. That's how they roll.
        • Pixar works with a rendering algorithm called REYES, an acronym for "Renders Everything You Ever Saw".
  • Similarly, WALL-E. There are moments—fairly frequent moments—where you wonder how EVE actually works, because she and WALL-E are obviously real machines...
    • that scene near the end, when EVE 'kisses' WALL-E, I actually thought that was live action!
    • Funnily enough, if you listen to one of the DVD commentaries for The Incredibles the Pixar guys talk about what they think of as their own Visual Effects of Awesome, and it wasn't any of the epic setpieces you might have guessed - it was a seemingly simple close-up of Edna Mode holding up a piece of cloth with a hole in it, poking at the cloth with one hand while sticking her finger through the hole. That's it (Of course, anyone who's ever tried to animate realistic CGI fabric may have a different perspective, but still).
      • Ratatouille should be on the list just because they actually managed to make food that did not fall in the uncanny valley using CGI. Fabric is actually really hard to animate well so it was actually very impressive that they were able to make it work well.
  • Coraline stretches the limits of what can be done with just stop-motion and a crapload of patience. Not counting mistakes, the average production speed is 3 seconds per day. The movie is 100 minutes long.
    • The garden scene is CGI, right? WROOONG. They made loads of flowers that lit up for the scene. A sequence that is impossibly beautiful, even by CGI standards, was made with stop-motion A BOX OF SCRAPS!
      • Maybe not "scraps", but one of the flowers is shown to be a deflated dog toy.
    • The scenes where parts of the Other World disintegrated. Try telling yourself that they're from a stop-motion film.
    • As an example of Tropes Are Not Good, the sheer beauty of the animation made some people think that it's just a generic CGI animation.
    • Also, contrary to popular beliefs, Coraline, not Avatar, is THE film that revolutionized 3D.
  • Max Schreck's Nosferatu makeup. Best thing? His name literally translates from German into "Max Scare".
  • The various effects of The Last Mimzy, except for the rather cheap-CG "space bridge" in one scene, must set some kind of record for integration into the scene—they seem so tangible that one has to regret not having the wonderful toys that cause them in-story...
  • Say what you will about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but the glorious shots of the various starships (especially the Enterprise) definitely belong here.
    • Very true, but they pale in comparison to the shootouts in Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. Especially the Mutara Nebula battle. Hell, the Mutara Nebula itself, which has been re-used in dozens of shows and movies since.
    • Star Trek: First Contact is considered the best of The Next Generation films, if only because of the insanity of the Borg battle above Earth near the beginning. The Borg ship alone is about the size of the entire Starfleet armada sent to destroy it.
    • The whales in Star Trek IV the Voyage Home. Nuff said.
      • They were realistic enough to fool U.S. fishing officials, who upon seeing the film actually criticized the producers for letting people get too close to the whales.
    • The 2009 film has an absolutely jaw-dropping sequence where the Enterprise rises out of Titan's atmosphere like a submarine breaching the surface of the ocean. Yes, atmospheres do not work that way, but this is perfectly all right by me.
      • Also, the shot near the beginning, with the crippled Narada listing off into the distance, and the little fleet of shuttlecraft getting away, all silhouetted against an enormous sun... breathtaking.
      • That's one of the few movies where the CREDITS are as pretty as the film itself.
    • Star Trek III the Search For Spock. Trekkies, say hello to Spacedock.
      • Dude, I was about to add that example. But an overlooked Crowning Effect is the sunrise over Mt. Seleya on the planet Vulcan. It was just as beautiful and breathtaking as the famous double sunset from Tatooine in Star Wars.
    • For such a lacking movie, the destruction of the Enterprise-D from Star Trek Generations was a thing of beauty. You know you're doing something right when your ship crashing is so cool it becomes a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
      • It's particularly awesome because it was done with practical effects, not CGI or animation. And it looks absolutely AMAZING.
  • The flying on fire/stretching/invisible/clobbrin' scenes in Fantastic Four. Say what you want about various members of the cast, but the crew definitely knew what they were doing.
  • The The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy set a standard for creating a whole other world that has yet to be met. Yes, even by Star Wars.
    • Indeed, The Lord Of The Rings movies: Basically the Star Wars for this generation, shattering the boundaries of visual effects. Technology used for many of the film's effects was invented specifically for the movie, such as the Balrog's flaming skin, and the unforgettable stampede of a hundred Oliphaunts. From that first scene of 'The Fellowship Of The Ring' where thousands of elves and men and ungodly creatures are blackening the sky with arrows and you immediately know the films are going to be amazing, to the first shots of Hobbiton, to Rivendell, to all that suspense leading up to the onslaught of Orcs in Moria and then they get there and they're f*** ing horrible, to the troll and Balrog to Lothlorien to Gollum changing everything and calling for demands that a CGI character get an Oscar nomination, to Helm's Deep to the Pelennor Fields to the entire rest of the trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy could be the mascot for this article. True magic.
    • What's all the more impressive, is in the knowledge that whenever possible, everything that appears on film actually exists in one form or another and was seamlessly put together for the finished product. This includes just about every static/scenery piece in all three movies, regardless of scale. Truly a new standard in model making/filming.
    • Most of the horses in the epic battle sequences were CGI. Even professional equestrians have difficulty telling them apart from real horses.
    • LotR wasn't just crowning-level awesome for how GOOD the effects LOOKED, but how they also ACTED. The Programmers didn't want to script the battles by hand, so they programed all the cgi characters to go nuts and try to kill each other... except they did TOO good a job. At one point in filming, the human armies started RUNNING AWAY from the Orcish armies because they didn't know how to deal with the incoming elephant riders! "Oh shit those things have over 9000 HP I'm out of here!"
    • While just about every scene has multiple examples of this trope, the one that comes immediately to mind is the scene in The Two Towers where Saruman's spell on King Theoden is broken and he turns back to his former self.
    • While it's tempting to just say "Everything", remember the shot where Gandalf walks into Bag End and hands his hat and staff to Bilbo, who takes them and sets them down. Incredible subtle, but makes you go, "Did they just... whoa."
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong was a box office disappointment considering the success of The Lord of the Rings, but had if anything even more sophisticated FX. Re-creating midtown Manhattan from a tiny bluescreened backlot in New Zealand works unbelievably well, and the dinosaur is stunning.
    • The scene where the crew gets trapped in a pit filled with giant centipedes and flesh-eating "barnacles", apparently a recreation of a scene that either wasn't filmed or cut for the original because it was too complicated.
    • The three T-Rexs versus Kong with our little damsel in distress tossed in the middle was simply flawless.
    • The stop-motion FX of the original 1933 version still holds up amazingly well and can even stump modern FX arists due to their complexity and detail, made all the more over-the-top because each one was done in a single take.
  • In the early scenes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a typical viewer stares and tries to figure out how they made the Toons look so real. By the end, they're not doing so any more—simply because they've forgotten they're looking at special effects.
    • Made all the more awesome when you actually sit and consider that computer graphics were not an option when the film was made and everything is hand-drawn. The computer only corrected the lighting of the cartoons so they mixed up well.
    • Not only is the animation stunning, but the physical effects behind it as well. They never once skimped on showing a toon holding a real object or grabbing a real person. Roger can even jump on a bed, and the bed compresses and expels dust in a totally convincing manner. The DVD shows that if you remove the animation, you are left with probably the most eleborate "Invisible Man" movie ever made.
  • Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man is a badly written, badly plotted piece of dreck with mediocre performances and a lot of bad taste. Some people have seen it repeatedly, if only just to look at those amazing, gorgeous special effects.
    • Kevin Bacon's body was so detailed that medical schools used it as instructional material.
  • The effects in any Indiana Jones movie, particularly Temple of Doom, are incredible to watch. That mine cart sequence model was made out of tin foil painted brown.
    • And the miniature sets were so claustrophobic they couldn't fit a full-sized movie camera into them, so they filmed the scene using a specially-modified SLR still camera with a big film magazine.
    • The melting faces from Raiders of the Lost Ark truly feel like the wrath of God.
  • Remember that part in the first Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack Sparrow entered Port Royal with his ship sinking just enough to get him to step onto the dock? Know how they did that? They had a huge tank of water, put a green screen behind it, stuck a movable dock in it and kept the ship in one place. They then slowly let the water out and moved the dock away while filming, then they reversed the film. End result? Complex shot achieved by use of one of the easiest effects to do, ever.
    • Not to mention the awesome skeleton pirates.
      • Those skeleton pirates debuted as WETA was working on the equally spooky Army of the Dead, which prompted a collective "Oh Goddammit!" and grudging admiration.
    • Davy Jones. The head was so well animated that even critics thought it was a headpiece of sorts.
      • It doesn't help that Davy Jones is computer generated genius and had some good lines.
    • They immediately had Davy and his crew walking around in bright sunlight and they still looked good. WETA found to be Gollum to be insanely difficult and that's just one character, who's naked and dry most of the time!
  • We could list every scene from the first Matrix movie... but I doubt TV Tropes has that much server space.
    • In Matrix Revolutions, the scene where Trinity and Neo travel to the Machine City and fight/fly over the sentinels and bombs is utterly breathtaking.
    • In general, * all* the hovercraft effects are incredible. Directly after that scene, when they overload the hovercraft's engines to get above the clouds and Trinity is the first human to see daylight in centuries-- still gives me a shiver down my spine.
    • The Matrix Reloaded: Two scenes spring to mind, the Neb docking at Zion, and the car chase to end all car chases. HSQ indeed.
  • While the latter two Back to The Future films aren't as beloved as the original, they do exhibit Talking to Himself scenes of incredible complexity for their time, such as Michael J. Fox playing most of the members of the McFly family circa 2015, and the elderly Biff Tannen giving his teenaged self Gray's Sports Almanac.
    • In that above scene, the arm Old Biff uses to pass the Almanac to Young Biff after they hear the football game? A mechanical one. You'd never freaking tell.
    • And of course, when you talk about Back to The Future and awesome visual effects, you have to mention the DeLorean and the time train.
  • Johnny 5. Just... Johnny 5. Of course, considering how it's been said the robot itself was the most expensive piece in the entire movie...
    • ...which meant the directors had to use some simple gimmicks to create some awesome effects. Ever wondered how they perfectly created Johnny flipping through the books he read? Compressed air blowing the book pages while a rotor whipped a robotic hand back and fourth. That's it. Doesn't quite look that simple, does it?
    • Not to mention a team of talented puppeteers who managed to get so much life out of a few moving parts and head positioning, along with the model makers who gave them that freedom.
  • There's so much high-grade win in The Dark Knight that some things go unmentioned. Like Two-Face. How the hell DID they do that??
    • It wasn't extremely realistic, though - that badly burned face would largely fall apart in a very short time. They apparently did initially experiment with a far more realistic face with more skin and realistic burns, but it looked so horrifying they feared they would get R-rating for it.
      • Um, how about the Batmobile's You Shall Not Pass moment when it rams a freakin garbage dumpster head on and pushes the sucker back 30 feet??!?
        • Miniatures. They used a miniature Garbage truck and miniature Tumbler. Same with blowing said Tumbler, using three different shots in three different locations.
    • Some of the most impressive visual effects in The Dark Knight might be described in this context as "cheating", since there is no effect—they actually did what they showed on screen. Examples: flipping (not rolling) a full-sized semi, blowing up & collapsing a building.
  • The Fifth Element. The car chase scene between Korbin Dallas and the police. It's hard not to jerk and sway with the awesome camera and great special effects.
  • Every single scene from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It's debatable if the plot was good, but every single frame was a masterpiece of CG gorgeousness.
    • Especially when Advent Children Complete was released. Taking advantage of Blu Ray's high definition to touch up the effects such as adding dirt stains on faces/clothes etc. It looks stunning, even moreso than the regular edition.
  • Watchmen has a bajillion of these, include the one of Dr. Manhattan on Mars when the crystalline castle rises out of the ground. It is jaw-dropping if seen in IMAX theaters.
    • Several more are subtle improvements to inconsistencies from the book: instead of blasting the tank with some sort of never-used-again hand beam, John, well, takes it to pieces.
  • Sin City. Outside of the beautiful spot colouring, worth noting is the fact that Mickey Rourke never met Elijah Wood, who he had a fucking fight scene with. That is just brilliant. And the fact that out of the whole movie there were only three sets? Very deceptive. The movie boasts both flashy and subtle CG to great effect.
  • The scene in Master and Commander where the Surprise is tossed and turned in the typhoon off of Cape Horn.
  • Anything that Stan Winston has ever worked on. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the Terminator, the Alien, the Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Iron Man. The man was a special effects god! Proof, if it's needed, watch Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines, then The Terminator. The original's effects have held up better. For added awesome, combine Winston with Industrial Light and Magic.
    • Not that better - the "go-motion" blurred effects aren't particularly good, but that's not Winston's work (the huge Terminator puppet is).
      • But then look at the 2nd one. First the skeletons at the beginning, that is 100% Stan Winston. See the scene where they made an animatronic Arnold? As in a torso of him? You do, but you don't see it. Where he walks down the hallway with a grenade launcher firing tear-gas, it's not Arnold. That's one of Winston's effects.
    • May he rest in peace.
  • Tron. Sure, the effects might be hokey for some now, but this was from 1982.
    • Tron: Legacy does not disappoint in this department either. It is the shiniest, shiniest movie ever, including Star Trek.
  • The opening credits for Superman Returns are enough to bring some tropers to Manly Tears, just through the sheer amount of intergalactic Scenery Porn.
    • Say what you want about the plot, but the flying sequences are some of the best Scenery Porn in a superhero movie.
    • The aircraft rescue at the start, beginning when he dives down after the spinning airliner, is simply one of the most awe-inspiring and downright beautiful super-power sequences ever put on film.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey. Despite being made in 1968 (!!!) its space scenes are still amongst the best (and most beautiful) ever made. It's almost hard to believe that it wasn't made using CGI.
    • If you're still in any doubt, consider that at the time the Earth had not yet been photographed from anything higher than a low orbit - that is, we had no photos of it that took in the whole Earth in one go. The famous Blue Marble photo was still four years away when the film was released! Remember that next time you see the shot of the Earth rotating in the window of the space station as it spins to simulate gravity. Similarly, nobody had ever seen Jupiter except as a blurry image through ground-based telescopes. The high-resolution images of the solar system we now have and take for granted simply didn't exist back then.
    • Douglas Trumbull. A lot of his work has been mentioned here... he's the undisputed master of space travel: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Silent Running, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner. Also note that HAL's readouts were made long before CGI was practical—those "computer" screens are all hand-drawn animation. The wireframe diagnostic readout when identifying the wiring fault is incredible.
      • Also, though Douglas Trumbull's film Brainstorm faced major problems during production, the ending has probably one of the most spectacular depictions of a Near-Death Experience put on film.
  • The spectral rabbits in the Watership Down film. Holy crap. They seriously look like they were pencil-shaded, and that alone is awesome - pencil shading would take a very long time to animate effectively!
  • Pixar has quite a few but in the close up shot of Woody and Al in Toy Story 2 you could swear Al is a live actor because he just looks so freaking real.
  • The Dark Crystal. All Brian Froud's designes, all puppets, no humans, all painted backgrounds. I mean come on people... throw this Jim Henson Fanatic a bone here!
    • If we disregard a couple of slightly less than perfect animated FX shots and one dodgy bluescreen... then yeah.
  • The T-1000 in Terminator 2. Nearly twenty years later, and that liquid metal literal killing machine remains as impressive as ever, from the moment it heals its first wounds all the way to its Shapeshifter Swan Song. Also noted for being the first time a completely CGI character spoke on film.
    • The T-800 in Salvation. Jesus christ, I don't know how they did it so well, but it was as if Arnold got yanked out of retirement and buffed up all again. The following chase sequence is, arguably, far more terrifying before the flesh is burned off.
    • And in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the makeup work is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Looking at a battle-damaged Cameron with half her flace blown off, you could swear up and down that Summer Glau really is a robot underneath that flesh and blood.
      • The original Terminator was a fairly cheap movie for its day, with a budget of only 6.5 million dollars; which is why the producers of T:SCC managed to convince studio heads that they could make a good Terminator show on a TV show budget. This does, however, really highlight Stan Winston's genius, since the T:SCC people are following his creation of the damaged Terminator makeup. Oh, and let's not forget his amazing puppet T-1000. Thought the T-1000 was completely CGI? Only six of the fifteen minutes of screentime the T-1000 takes up for its transformations are CGI. That's not even counting his Predator and Alien Queen designs. Stan Winston was amazing; he created the most iconic monsters and machines outside Star Wars, firing up an entire generation's imagination - and terror. And awe.
  • What about Be Prepared from The Lion King? Awsome pyrotecnics, good animation, and marching hyenas based off Nazi footage it has it all. It's this guy's favorite movie but I remember watching it recently. I was too blown away by the special effects and beat to notice the Nightmare Fuel. Like the Circle of Life wasn't breathtaking and memorable enough as it was.
    • A good word must also be put in for the wildebeest stampede. Even without the emotional torque that comes with the scene, the sight of hundreds of individual wildebeest thundering over the cliff is nothing short of spectacular.
  • Sandman from Spider-Man 3.
      • Let's not forget the incredibly kick-ass climatic fight scene at the end.
    • The train sequence from part II. Damn.
    • Let's not forget Doc Ock's tentacles from the second movie. At times it's hard to tell whether they're CG or manned by puppeteers.
    • The best part? They're both. They had a full puppet rig for a lot of the close-ups, and CGI for action shots. And it. Is. AWESOME.
      • Lack of screentime aside, the symbiote was particularly well done. They turn the symbiote into a creepy, tentacle like thing. It doesn't just bond with Spider-Man, it latches onto him. The best moment is during the bonding scene. You see the symbiote's shadow first looking a little like Venom's head, complete with jaw and tongue. Then it morphs into a monstrous hand that grabs onto Spidey's arm.
  • The only alien invasion more realistic than War Of The Worlds would be one actually occurring, filmed with a camcorder.
    • Assuming this is all referring to the Spielberg remake, the 1953 version still looks damn good as well.
  • It really says something that all the fancy-schmancy CGI effects in Superman Returns don't even equal, let alone surpass, the effects from the 1978 Superman of 30 years earlier. Perhaps not the literal truth, but the sentiment is sound.
    • The 777 rescue in Returns is impressive, though.
  • Cloverfield was shot on a budget of thirty million dollars. It looks like it cost five times that.
  • Moonraker may be one of the sketchier James Bond movies, but the Ken Adam-designed space station is legitimately incredible.
    • Give some credit also to model maker Derek Meddings, who previously built a supertanker model for The Spy Who Loved Me that was so convincing that Exxon executives asked the producers where they got a real one for the film!
    • Daniel Kleinman's opening titles for the modern Bond films are this, plus Crowning Music of Awesome, plus a metric ton of Fetish Fuel. And sometimes, he doesn't even need the Fetish Fuel.
  • Moon, by Duncan Jones, consistently maintains a feel of a moon base, complete with exterior shots, and a robot assistant. The kicker? It did it for five million, utter pocket change by any movie making standards.
  • Then there is the great transformation scene with Rick Baker's effects in An American Werewolf in London, that holds up amazingly well nearly thirty years later.
  • There's the single enormous shot in Children of Men, with the camera seemingly fixed to Clive Owen's shoulder as he runs around a war zone.
    • The movie is full of awesome scenes like these, like the scene that leads up to and includes the assassination of Julian.
  • Blade Runner The scenes are just breathtaking incredible.
  • Although all of G-Force (the movie) looks pretty good, the bit the takes the cake has to be the car/hamster ball chase scene. The FBI guys get to the hideout, and the team have to do a runner in a motorized vehicle that is made out of three hamster wheels and a miniature supercharged engine. They break out the window... the whole scene gets more and more "holy crap this is cool" until the finale of the scene where the FBI jeep accidentally sets off a ground fireworks display, so that the rest of the scene is G-Force fleeing from the FBI while fireworks are exploding all around making it look like they're out driving a fireball. Did I mention it's in 3D?
  • When viewing District 9, there are parts where you'll swear you notice the switch between CGI and puppets/make-up. There are no switches—the aliens are entirely CGI. You'll also believe that there is an honest-to-God spaceship hovering above Johannesburg.
    • When watching this I never thought about the aliens being entirely done by CGI-they were that good. Even after I started looking for it I could barely tell it was CGI.
    • Clearly, it pays to be friends with Peter Jackson and WETA.
      • I have it on good authority that the WETA Animators were using D9 as the practice run for Avatar. The effects breakdown goes like this: WETA did all the alien tech, save the exosuit and the 3D HU Ds - those were done by The Orphanage, who also did the aliens. (The Orphanage also made the HU Ds for Iron Man and did some of the armour animation. I will admit to fangirling them slightly...)
    • Neill Blomkamp has a long association with Crazy Awesome CGI, such as his early short Tetra Vaal, his Transforming Mecha breakdancing Citroen commercial, and his Halo 3 short film.
    • Bonus Points for having a low budget (30 million)
    • Not sure if it quite fits, but you know all the alien growths on Wikus? All makeup and animatronics. No CGI. Tell me that's not impressive.
  • Star Wreck: Would you believe this movie's special effects shots were done in people's homes and their rendering farm was in a kitchen? I think not.
  • The sequence in Bride of Frankenstein with miniature humans (created by Dr. Praetorius) in glass bottles is pretty astonishing for 1935! Watch it here.
  • The entire "battle in the sky" sequence in Gamera 3: Revenge Of Irys. It's just beautifully stunning to look at and you really start to believe that a giant turtle as well as a giant tentacled....thing are duking it out above the clouds near Kyoto, Japan.
    • Heck, the whole film qualifies. The effects used to bring the title kaiju to life (Via a mixture of CGI, puppetry, and good old-fashioned "suitimation") are nothing short of incredible.
    • Kaneko's Gamera series generally feature fantastic visuals, and keep improving through the series. One standout is Legion (although her Toho 'counterpart', Biollante, is even more stunning).
  • The monster fights (as well as any battles in which the JSDF are involved) in the film Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack are so well-done that you almost forget that it's mostly done with People in Rubber Suits and highly detailed tiny model sets.
    • Likewise, the effects used for Godzilla's death in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah are quite good. 'Course, you'll most likely be too busy crying during such a tragic moment to truly appreciate the technical aspects of the scene.
    • The miniature sets in Godzilla 1984 are pretty spectacular, especially during the faceoff between the Super-X and Godzilla.
    • King Ghidorah's introduction is still an amazing piece of artistry.
    • And also Biollante. Just Biollante. Holy Crap. Suitmation at its finest. In fact, the whole final battle is a thing of beauty (and horror).
    • As is the shot of Rose Biollante in the lake.
    • The original Gojira still looks great despite age and budget due to the amazing shadowy cinematography, especially in the scenes of city destruction.
  • Have to give a shout out to Escape from New York, with the "computer graphics" used in the navigation system in Snake's plane. The production crew created them by building a physical model, covering it with lines of reflective tape, and filming the result; it still looks good today.
  • The Vogons in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Forget CG: when it comes to beautifully-realized monsters, you just can't beat the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
    • The Magarathean factory floor was also very impressive.
    • Humma Kavula‎'s thousands of tiny little robotic legs were extremely impressive, as was the Earth being blown up. But it all pales in comparison to the awesomeness of seeing the Earth being rebuilt, bit by bit, with massive hoses to fill the oceans and paints and chisels for the mountains.
  • Lon. Chaney. Senior. Even after eighty years of advances in makeup and visual effects, his portrayals of Quasimodo and The Phantom of the Opera still rank among the most effective physical transformations ever created for film.
  • The Mask's "turning a guy into a Looney Tune" effects still hold up pretty well today.
    • As the people who worked on it would say, it helps that Jim Carrey's face is so rubbery to begin with.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's hard to guess how much is CGI and how much is make-up.
    • It's so good, it made it onto TED.
  • Rent's special effects were done by Industrial Lights And Magic, so it goes without saying that it's got a lot of these, but the "Without You" sequence takes the cake. It's a montage of the character's lives, from roughly late January to right around Halloween. There's a little support group for people with AIDS called Life Support. The camera pans around the room at a few points, and people fade away... how they made that look so smooth is just amazing. The camera doesn't jump at all, and everyone who didn't fade is still right where they were and it's just amazing. Even with the Tear Jerker of that scene... wow.
  • The title characters of Where the Wild Things Are react to the world very realistically; not surprising considering that most of the time when you see them, they're actually right on camera. Most of the time CGI was only used for the facial animation, and even that is incredibly lifelike.
  • This Is My Song from the Tom Thumb movie. Especially when he dances with a paper cutout of himself.
  • Say what you will of 2012, but this sure looks like its entire purpose.
    • And on this point at least, it delivered in spades; Monumental Damage has never looked so good. The sequence of driving and flying through Los Angeles as it crumbles into the sea, with our heroes driving under collapsing overpasses, though falling offices and flying under subway trains is astounding.
  • Hellboy II's graphics were utterly superb, from the nature elemental to the vicious swarm of tooth pixies to the titular Golden Army. Hellboy and Abe sure looked real to me, and Kraus's spirit-steam effects were fun to watch.
    • It helps they have Ron Perlman in the red suit. As someone once put it, "Ron Perlman is Hellboy. You don't need makeup, just paint him red."
    • And they did it on the cheap. How? By minimising use of CGI.
  • Sunshine: The ending scene where Capa is looking at the sun is particularly beautiful, but there's a whole bunch of stunning visuals in this movie.
  • The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The suits and puppets used in the film were as complex and top-of-the-line as animatronics got back then. Jim Henson did the creatures of the film not not for money (it was an independent film), or fame, but simply because he knew it would change how his company would have to do these things. Even today the Turtles and Splinter look totally real even to eyes that have been spoiled by CG effects. As soon as you see the Turtles turn that corner in the opening titles you completely buy into that these things are alive, they show any and every emotion conceivable throughout the action of the movie, and all four of them have a wholly unique face and body structure (not many people notice this, but Raphael has a small scar under his left eye, that's dedication). The system that governed the facial movements went on to become the Henson Control System, widely regarded as the best in animatronics, and is still in use today. This is to say nothing of the darkly beautiful underground sets that comprise the fictional New York sewers and the Turtles' home.
    • Speaking of the Turtles, say what you will of TMNT, but that contains some of the most beautiful CGI in a Weinstein Brothers movie yet. The buildings, lighting, the way the clothes move in the wind, and even how the rain trickles off the turtles' shells is PHENOMENAL.
  • Jurassic Park. Tell yourself those dinosaurs are fake.
    • "They've got some pretty well trained dinosaurs..." - a friend's comment on the film.
    • In the third movie velociraptors were depicted by both CGI and full-sized animatronic puppets. Visually it's virtually impossible to distinguish between the two, and both look outright hyperrealistic. This is an awesome achievement in both CGI and animatronics.
    • The dinosaur models in The Lost World are so good, they even look real in the "making of" featurette when they're shown in the workshop with plain fluorescent overhead lighting and no camera tricks.
  • Ray Harryhausen is the spiritual granddaddy of this trope, with Willis O'Brian as its originator.
  • I always find myself trying to pick out who's Hallie and who's Annie in The Parent Trap, and then have to remind myself it's the same actress.
  • The movie may be crap, but Michael Jackson's One-Winged Angel into a killer robot in Moonwalker is quite simply unbelievable for the time period. Remember, the movie was made a full three years before Terminator 2.
  • The Audrey 2. At first it looks like an obvious puppet, but once that thing starts talking, you forget that pretty quickly.
  • A very old example: one of the actors in Seven Samurai had never handled a sword in his life. With some clever camera tricks, he looked like the best swordsman in the film. Considering that this is long before digital editing, that's pretty impressive.
  • The 2010 Alice in Wonderland has absolutely AMAZING CGI and 3D work. I mean just... wow. Yes, a lot of it comes off as uncanny valley, but it's SUPPOSED to.
    • Oh, My, God, Alice in Wonderland. My jaw dropped the minute she stepped through that door and took several hours to reattach.
  • Mary Poppins is another classic example whose effects still hold up very well today.
  • While the original is mentioned in the Harryhausen section above, the remake of Clash of the Titans deserves to be mentioned too. Specifically, the Kraken itself was jaw-droppingly awesome in pretty much every way, from its alien design, to all of its limbs twisting and moving around, to the sheer volume of water pouring off the thing as it moves, the effects guys did an incredible job making that thing look huge. Also worthy of mention, Pegasus.
  • The Mummy 1999! From the opening shot of Thebes, to Imhotep's walking, talking corpse, the plagues, the sand wall, and the soldier mummies were just pure epic.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, the filmmakers asked the army if they could take pictures of the then state of the art B-52 cockpit for the on plane scenes. The Air Force denied their request citing national security reasons. What do the filmmakers do? Go look at old B-29 cockpit and base the design off that and exterior shots of the B-52 nose section. When they invited the military to view the result, they were told that "it was absolutely correct, even to the little black box which was the CRM." Director Stanley Kubrick was afraid of an FBI investigation after that.
  • Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow was by no means photorealistic, but it sure hell looked exactly like the comic books and serials it was emulating, brought brilliantly to life.
  • Speed, Fucking, Racer. Yes, within the first, like, 5 minutes of the film you will be very much able to tell this is all CGI. But keep in mind that it is trying to be essentially a live action Anime, on crack, and damnit, it looks pretty.
  • The exploding head, and its subsequent regeration, in Species II.
  • When Frank escapes The Labyrinth in Hellraiser, and slowly grows from a puddle to a vaguely humanoid form.
  • SerenityThe entire movie is full of brilliant effects , but that one scene near the end, when the Reavers come out of that nebula and just engage the alliance fleet waiting there head-on! That scene was also quite definatly a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Inception:
    • Everything in zero-g, particularly the first fight scene where they run around all three dimensions of that hallway to beat the crap out of each other.
      • What's particularly cool is that the hallway scene was actually filmed in real life—they actually built a rotating hallway to film the scene in! Not that that makes it any less of an amazing effect!
    • The streets of Paris exploding around (a very calm) Cobb and Ariadne.
    • The streets of Paris folding in half.
    • The decrepit city in the fourth dream layer.
  • Many say that the best visual effects are those you don't notice, and that's so true for The Dark Knight Saga, especially, well, The Dark Knight. They couldn't do the jump off the Two-ifc in Hong Kong for real, so that's really a green screen effect. The helicopter crash is some realistic CGI too. Not to mention the Batpod's emergence from the Tumbler. And some of the big car chase is made using minuature models. One really subtle instance is that the windows on the top floor of the hospital that blows up? Those were CGI because the real windows were stolen. And then the hospital explodes. Really spectacularly. Also, Batman's sonar vision is some trippy and very beautiful stuff.
    • Batman Begins was pretty good with this too. The climatic train sequence was done mostly with minuatures, and also the fear toxin hallucination sequences were genuine Nightmare Fuel. The League Of Assassins' dojo being blown up was nice minuature model work too, and a lot of the Tumbler chase is pretty good game for this trope.
      • Don't forget the Narrows, which perfectly captured the dark, gothic feel of Batman.
    • Batman also has several incredible visual effects for its time (that still look pretty damn good today), made all the more amazing when you realize that there's no CGI involved whatsoever. In particular, every sequence with the Batmobile, the Batwing sequence, and the shootout in the Axis Chemicals Plant just look incredible and feel like they were ripped out of a comic book.
  • V for Vendetta. Made on a considerably lower budget than many successful comic book film adaptations, the film boasts various cool action setpieces. The domino scene was done for real by Weijers Domino Productions from the Netherlands. And they had to do the elaborate setup twice because of problems with the camera angles the first time around. And when the houses of parliament get blown up at the end? Minuature effects. Boo yeah!
  • Your Mileage May Vary, but most anyone you ask will agree that the effects on The Incredible Hulk (the one with Edward Norton) were many, many times better than those of the earlier Hulk film. Both the Hulk and the Abomination had very good muscle definition and skin texture for CGI creations, and the scenes where they are in the rain are downright cool. Yes, even the Hulk's Narm scene in the cave. The film also required both creatures to do a lot of interaction with real environments, people and other elements, which was pulled off pretty well.
  • The CG animals in The Golden Compass.
  • The "London Walk" in 28 Days Later, where Jim roams the city looking for anyone else, passing by several landmarks and giving the completely convincing impression that one of the world's major capitals is devoid of human life. All achieved by filming early in the morning, stopping traffic for a few minutes, and blanking out anything else in post-production.
  • Voldemort's face in the Harry Potter movies.
    • By the seventh movie, it's not as good - it's so real that it pretty much stops being scary and starts being 'meh, so he's a bit pale'.
    • The really impressive part, of course, is the nose. Many viewers have wondered what they could have done to make Ralph Fiennes' nose look like that short of facial surgery. The answer is that they erased his nose with CGI. And it's worth noting they had to not effect Ralph Fiennes' performance while they were digitally altering his face in every shot in which he appears, whether it's a close-up of his face or a wide shot in which he can only be seen from a distance.
    • Buckbeak in Prisoner of Azkaban.
    • The Dementors, especially in the third.
    • The scene where Luna and Harry watch the Thestrals.
    • Pretty much anything Dumbledore does with his wand is gauranteed 100% unadulterated awesome, though special mention should go to his fight with Voldemort at the end of the fifth and his EPIC ring of fire in the sixth.
    • DOBBY AND KREACHER IN DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1. Compare Dobby in that to Dobby in the second. It makes the first, semi scrappy Dobby look like amateur work. Kreacher not as much improvement since he was already pretty damn good in the fifth, but holy cow. There were so many moments where I went "Oh, that's got to be a puppet".... only to find out it was all CGI.
    • THE UKRAINIAN IRONBELLY. Holy shit. Best special effects in the whole series; period.
    • All of the Horcrux destructions.
    • Hogwarts itself. Especially after the third movie. You really come to believe it's a real place somewhere in Scotland.
  • Tony Stark putting on his "suitcase armor" in Iron Man 2
    • By far the better scene was the first movie, when his entire automated workshop dresses him in his Mark III armor, piece by piece, finishing with placing his helmet and mask.
  • The three main X-Men movies all feature incredible visual effects, especially since the first was released in 2000. Particularly impressive is the scene where Magneto confronts the cops, takes control of their firearms and floats them in midair, aiming at each of them. Also, the various closeup shots of Wolverine's claws emerging, Senator Kelly's Nightmare Fuel mutation, Mystique's transformations (that got progressively better as the films went on) and so on. Also in the first film is an extreme Talking to Himself scene where Wolverine fights Mystique (the latter disguised as Wolverine) and one seriously cannot tell which is the real Logan. The second film had the X-Jet tornado sequence, Nightcrawler's teleportations and the ending scene where Jean Grey telekinetically holds back the water from the dam. The third film has Angel's wings, Quill's spikes and of course the Golden Gate bridge uprooted and plonked on Alcatraz Island. One moment that is slight more subtle is the "digital skin grafting" that made Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen look two decades younger.
    • Not forgetting the practical makeup effects, such as the muscle suit Vinnie Jones wore as the Juggernaut, Angel's wings in their folded position and of course the full-body makeup applied to Beast, Mystique and Nightcrawler.
    • The 2006 remake of Poseidon. Beautifully shot capsizing scene or the wonderful opening sequence just goes to show you what computers and animators are capable of.The Capsizing scene and the opening scene
  • The CGI in David Fincher's Zodiac is so flawless, some people don't even realize the film contained CG effects.
  • Damn, the new Guardians of Gahoole movie is PRETTY. Prettier than Avatar. I swear, every flutter of every tiny neck feather in the breeze is rendered in loving clarity. Not to menton the raindrops in the storm sequence. And despite being so very anthropomorphised in behaviour, the owls look and move like owls. With the exception of their eyes moving, that is.
  • Say what you will about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, but Hyde was awesome. Even better? He's not CG (except for a few scenes). He's a suit.
  • The makeup effects in Beetlejuice. Especially near the end of the movie.
  • The Fountain. Now consider it's not CG, they used actual deep-sea microorganisms to get their effects because they felt CG would look outdated in a decade or two.
  • The CGI animation in Megamind is generally solid, but when the top of the tower collapses, it's like a massive Art Bump.
  • Thomas And The Magic Railroad. Watch the scenes on the Magic Railroad itself. And then there's the scene of Lady steaming up for the first time in decades. They did it perfectly, you'd never be able to tell that engine was only a prop. The model work is good too.
  • Years before CG brought us Draco or Toothless there was Vermithrax Pejorative!
  • Galaxy Quest is interesting in that it is a comedy with a big budget, but the money spent actually helps instead of hurting the film. The film uses Stylistic Suck when showing how cheaply-made the in-universe "Galaxy Quest" television show was, but pulls out the big guns with CGI that was fairly realistic for its time (I daresay the wormhole was as good as the one in Star Trek), building the starship bridge set on an actual gimbal that would shake and tilt, and especially the animatronic and prosthetic effects provided by Stan Winston and his studio.
  • Say what you will about the Eragon film, but Saphira was a scene-stealer and the lone bright point it had. The magnificent blue-scaled dragoness invoked Just Here for Godzilla in just about everyone who bothered to watch that tripe.
  • The climax of Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Percy using his I'm-the-son-of-the-sea-god powers to control the water in the nearby water tanks like a Waterbender to kick Luke's ass with. Then he forms a trident out of water. That is all.
  • The hair in Tangled. They went out of their way to make it wet, blow, touched. Then the detail paid to the textures, water, everything but the skin. That's probably for the best.
  • Here's one that's a bit different: The Social Network. Armie Hammer provides the face of both of the Winklevoss twins. They edited his face onto the other guy's body. Why is this Visual Effects of Awesome? Because they did it so perfectly that there is absolutely no trace of it in the film. It is utterly seamless.
  • Try watching Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in Blu-Ray / Hi-Def. The scenes with The Roc are especially well done; and it's movements are scarily birdlike.
  • The Thing's transformation in the kennel. While there are some brief moments of slightly dodgy special effects, that first transformation is golden and still terrifying today.
  • Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, holy shit. The entire movie is gorgeous and visually amazing, probably the best in Tokusatsu history. This troper watched it in Blu-Ray and was blown away the entire time, just as much if not even more than when I watched Star Wars prequel or The newest Star Trek movie. Whether it's the betsu no uchu scene with Zero traveling into the multiverse, the Mirror World or the Land of Light, it will blow you away.
    • Ultra Galaxy Legends: The Movie, is absolutely georgeous, from the Land of Light to the Monster Graveyard. The standouts are Belial vs the Land of Light and the stunning Zaragas vs Gomora battle.
  • Any Guillermo del Toro movie involving prosthetics will end up like this. The man has designed some of the most fantastical (and bizarre) creatures in movie history, and since one of his first ever jobs in film was as a makeup artist, he knows exactly how to get the look he wants. Screw CGI: look at Abe Sapien's smooth, damp skin, or the Faun's ridged, curling goat-horns. Don't you just want to reach out and touch them? Well, if you'd been on set that day, you could have. That's a magic that no computer can ever give you.
  • An American in Paris. Just watching these two clips, along with the Technicolor Explosion of a ballet sequence at the end astounds this troper every time he watches the movie and makes him wonder how they did it, especially since it was made in 1951. 1951! That's at least 17 years before 2001ASpaceOdyssey came out, and even LONGER before CGI was invented!
  • The Animated Armor scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It beats CGI forever!
  • Ben-Hur's Chariot Race. Sweet mother of mercy, the Chariot Race. And the sea battle isn't too shabby, either.
    • The chariot race for the most part was real and not effects. There were matte paintings for the long shots showing the area surrounding the track of but those were real extras, real sets and real horses. It's movr "Stuntwork of Awesome".
  • The Creepy Awesome titles for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
  • For its time, The Ten Commandments was a special effects masterpiece, particularly the parting of the Red Sea, but for this troper the moments that still have some capacity to make you believe are when the staffs turn into serpents and when the pillar of fire carves the ten commandments into rock. And that's before you get into the cast of thousands approach that Cecil B. De Mille took with the crowd scenes.
  • While the later Tremors movies used Conspicuous CG, the original used EXTREMELY GOOD animatronics for the Graboids. Watch the original Tremors and tell me those worms are fake.
  • The Adventures of Tintin. The 2011 film. Oh my God. The absolutely gorgeous 2D opening sequence was incredible enough, but then you see the CGI, and it's so realistic that within a few minutes you forget you're watching a CGI, motion-captured film. Some of the effects used for different scenes were incredible, as well-in order to film a scene on a rocking boat, the actors were put on a swinging walkway. And Snowy the dog? No motion capture whatsoever. The animators thought that motion-capturing a dog wasn't realistic enough and just animated him by scratch. Did I mention the movie averts the Uncanny Valley in the most incredible ways possible? Special mention has to be given to the transitions between scenes, as well, especially the one between Tintin and Haddock being lost at sea to the Thom(p)sons walking down the sidewalk.
  • The entirety of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the fight scenes in particular, seriously looked like a live-action video game, with both subtle and not-so-subtle awesome effects: a subtle example is when Scott and Ramona are on a bus discussing the Evil Exes, where the lights behind Scott are shaped like hearts and the ones behind Ramona are shaped like X's at first but then change to hearts as well, and a not-so-subtle example being the holographic Dragons vs. Yeti battle. Other special mentions go to Todd's Vegan Powers, the Exes bursting into coins, and the various weapons, especially Gideon's Pixel Katana. (Notice how anything behind the sword trail looks pixellated!)
  • Peeta's camouflage in the film of The Hunger Games makes him entirely indistinguishable from the environment and still looks like a plausible, realistic makeup job. No CGI here.
  • Everything from The Avengers, from the Helicarrier rising from the ocean, to Tony's new suit, to Hulk's transformations, to the battle scenes... Scenery Porn galore!

Live Action Television[edit | hide]

  • The TV miniseries adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mostly suffers from terrible special effects, except for the sequences where we see the guide itself. All these shots are actually hand drawn replicas of typical computer graphics of the time, and even today you'd swear they were actually done on a computer.
  • For all the mocking the classic series of Doctor Who receives at times for its Special Effects Failures, I don't think anyone can deny just how awesome that opening shot of the space station in "Trial of a Time Lord" was. Unfortunately later spaceship shots in the same serial don't even come close that quality - the BBC just couldn't afford it.
    • "Planet of Evil"? To quote Wikipedia: "Despite the jungle setting of this serial, the shoot was entirely studio bound, and designer Roger Murray-Leach built an intricately detailed jungle set. The BBC was so impressed with it that they kept photographs of it for several years as an example of excellent set design and producer Philip Hinchcliffe recommended that he be nominated for an award for this work."
      • Not to mention Sorenson's low-tech but incredibly creepy glowing eyes.
    • Also - the sailing ships in space in "Enlightenment".
    • And the guy's face melting in "Dragonfire".
    • The gorgeously realised alien planet in "Survival" is a definite contender as well.
    • The Ninth Doctor's (and by extension, the Tenth Doctor, Derek Jacobi's Master's, the Eleventh Doctor's and the little girl's) regeneration sequence.
    • The shot of Mars at the end of "The Waters of Mars".
    • The special effects are pretty much the only good thing about "Time and the Rani". The planet and the bubble traps in particular look incredible for their time.
    • In the new series, we have the airborne shots of New New York in "Gridlock".
    • The ruins of Pompeii at the beginning of the fourth series are absolutely breathtaking.
    • The climax of "The Poison Sky". They set the sky on fire.
    • With a few exceptions, all of Series Five. The Atraxi. Starship UK. Blitz-era London. The Spitfire vs. Dalek saucer space battle. The crash of the Byzantium. All of them are rendered so gorgeously that it would be hard to convince someone that all of these are from a TV series, and one that used to be mocked for cheesy effects at that.
    • Almost any shot of a satellite or spaceship from the new series as early as "The End of the World"'s Platform One. Also, "Tooth and Claw"'s werewolf, which still held up stunningly against that of series 4 and 5.
    • March 26, 2005, teatime. The first new episode in over a decade has begun to air, and after just a minute or so, there's two of these: the beautifully rendered title sequence of the TARDIS travelling through the fiery time vortex and then the shot of Earth in orbit, which picks up speed as it moves toward London.
    • Good god, the Toclafane. One of them's just a floating metal ball, but when you see an entire army of them in Earth orbit... brrr....
    • "The End of the World", "42", "Amy's Choice" and "The Big Bang" successfully render suns breathtakingly well.
    • "Vincent and the Doctor", the stargazing scene. The Doctor, Amy, and Vincent Van Gogh look up at the night sky, and it transforms into The Starry Night. Absolutely beautiful.
    • A man's face transforming into a gas mask in "The Empty Child". The fact that they actually managed to make something that sounds that absurd look so convincing and horrifying is incredible.
    • The shell-less TARDIS traveling through the Vortex in "The Doctor's Wife". Wow.
    • Say what you will about the Daleks, their original body and voice designs are superb, rubber plungers notwithstanding.
    • "The Daemons" is a very early example. Though it was filmed in the days when both technology and budget were pathetic, the producers worked wonders with just a few clever camera tricks (filters, angles and some judicious shaking). The gargoyle costume was astonishingly realistic, and for once the revealed monster (Azal) exceeded expectations. The model church which was blown up at the end was so realistic a number of people complained to the BBC, thinking they had blown up an actual building.
    • Every single shot of Gallifrey we've gotten in the New Series has been absolutely stunning.
    • "Pyramids of Mars" had smoking footsteps and strangulations and Scarman's reverse-playback bullet-wound healing.
    • The Special Weapons Dalek's lasers from Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • This is one of the main selling points of Madan Senki Ryukendo: the CG team just get better and better as the series progresses, and the final battle is a thing of jaw-dropping, Beyond the Impossible beauty.
  • Watch the battle of the Resurrection Ship from Season 2 of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Watch Galactica and Pegasus circle the Cylon ships, slowly pounding them to space dust, and avoid dropping your jaw in awe.
    • I see your Resurrection Ship and raise you the Battle for New Caprica from "Exodus, Pt. 2" in early Season 3. Breathtaking doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • All of Babylon 5 was notable for being trailblazing in CGI space effects, but the moment which stands out for me is the big fight sequence in Series 3s Severed Dreams. Litterally hundreds of ships going head to head in a blaze of dog fighting. My jaw was on the floor when I saw this for the first time. At the time the last thing I could recall that even came close was the finale of Return of the Jedi, which itself held the record for the most complex shot ever when released. But the B5 sequence goes on a lot longer and is far more involved. The fact that a TV series could do something so large scale and impressive really underlined that the future was CGI.
    • Another moment, from the season two finale, The Reveal of what everyone sees when they look at Kosh, was particularly notable as well. JMS said about it, "when you go for something this substantial: either you're going to do something truly amazing, or you're going to massively fall on your face". Watching the episode with someone who was seeing it for the first time, she blurted out "My God, he's beautiful." The effects were ten years old at this point. Yeah, they nailed it.
  • The Cool Gate doing its "kawoosh" in all incarnations of Stargate. (Okay, not the cartoon Stargate Infinity, in which it was just sort of a blob. And it has no excuse, what with being animated and all.) IIRC, it's done by filming underwater as a jet engine is fired from just above the surface - and filmed from a gazillion angles so they wouldn't have to go to the expense of doing it again. That is also awesome, because you wouldn't ever know that all the many gate scenes were from the same use of the trick - even when every Gate in the known universe was activated at once, leading to a great many kawoosh scenes being shown back to back. It should really have shown then, but it didn't.
    • The Wraith assault on Atlantis in "The Siege" looks incredible. Wraith darts against human missiles and railguns... it's amazing.
    • The shot of the Goa'uld bombarding Washington D.C. in Stargate: Continuum is equal parts horrifying and stunning.
    • Stargate Universe has the scene in "Darkness" where Destiny skims the atmosphere of a gas giant. As Chloe put it, "it's beautiful".
      • Followed by Destiny emerging from the sun in "Light".
  • The final episode of Fawlty Towers, featuring Manuel's rat running around the hotel. There are a couple spots (espeically the ending) where the rat is clearly mechanical, but for the most part it looks for all the world exactly like a real rat.
    • IIRC they did use a real rat for a couple of insert shots, but mostly it's a puppet.
  • The first season finale of Life shows main character Charlie Crews driving down a street in LA, when he's suddenly rammed from the side, making his car flip over. The scene is shot in a "you are there" style which is amazingly visceral.
  • The episode of House involving a video game developer took a different direction than their usual television depiction by showing a game that's at least ten years ahead of what's possible today. I want to play that game.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. With the Dominion War arc, we got the most impressive special effects from Star Trek until the new movie came out.
    • Watch the Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". Now carefully pick your jaw back up from the floor...
      • Similarly the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" (though the Deep Space Nine one did go one step beyond by seamlessly integrating original footage with new characters).
    • The Voyager episode "Scorpion." The First Contact movie had one Borg cube, this episode had 40 cubes nearly running over the insignificant Voyager on their way to face an even greater threat, and were all destroyed.
      • Voyager crashing into the ice planet in "Timeless" is some goddamn epic CGI, especially for a TV show in 1998. Watch it here, and check out some badass behind the scenes art for it here.
    • Say what you will about "Threshold"—and believe me I could say a LOT—but the makeup for mutant!Paris is disgustingly, disgustingly good. It even won an Emmy for makeup.
    • The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Twilight". Nothing really daring by Trek standards, except... the complete destruction of the Earth. Notable for two reasons; 1) while blowing up worlds is fairly common in post-Star Wars sci-fi, the effects team showed the Xindi superweapon literally boiling the planet from the inside out, complete with fault lines cracking and tearing apart. 2) It wasn't even in the script! The effects team came in on their weekends off and did the sequence just for the hell of it. Just...damn!
    • The animation may not have been technically groundbreaking, the first 30 seconds opening credits for Deep Space Nine was quite beautiful.
      • The Next Generation's opening sequence too with all the planets. The "Space: The Final Frontier" bit only enhances it more.
      • I see you Deep Space Nine and raise you Voyager. Deep Space Nine's credits were beautiful, but Voyager's were breathtaking.
    • The opening shot of the Voyager episode "Dragon's Teeth," featuring an alien city under bombardment. An amazing amount of work for a shot that only lasts a few seconds.
      • And it was good enough to be put into the altered credit sequence of "In a Mirror, Darkly."
    • The final shot of "Author, Author," with a whole cave full of Robert Picardos.
  • Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking's 2-hour episode has some pretty cool special effects: The super nova "storm clouds", crunching of the earth into a black hole, making a star in Wembly Field, and a super-massive black hole with a ship going around it. Even a bunch of ball-bearings on the floor (they're in a perfect grid, but if you take a few of them out they start swirling together) is facinating.
  • Primeval may not be about to keep up with its big-budget theatrical peers, but for a TV series to feature a new time-displaced creature every episode, and actually set things up to make it look like it interacts with the enviroment, is nothing short of amazing for a TV series.
  • Dinosaurs! from 1985 featured various sequences of stop-motion dinosaurs created by Tippett studios. Sure, they don't look so good compared to the CG dinosaurs of Jurassic Park (which Tippett went on to do), but for the time is was the greatest thing. Also helps that the documentary was hosted by Christopher Reeve.
  • In that vein, the BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs, which for the most part featured jaw-droppingly realistic prehistoric beasts on a TV-budget, and was made in 1999. While never quite consistent, the quality kept improving throughout its sequels, and by the '05 Walking with Monsters, the CGI stood the test of closeups.
  • Super Sentai (and therefore, Power Rangers) is getting there. They kept the slightly dated looking People in Rubber Suits from 70's era Godzilla movies long into the mid-90's. However, as of late they're getting better and better. Though there were some pretty damnm convincing rubber suits. And stuntwork in some of the old ranger fights looks more convincing.
    • Close your eyes and point, and you'll likely hit something gorgeous in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. Henshins, roll calls, the Gokai Change into previous teams, everything.
    • For those who prefer the dialogue to be in a language they understand, search YouTube for the 10th-anniversary episode "Forever RED (film)." Excellent choreo and wirework, a Bullet Time shot, speed-up-slow-down cinematography years before 300 made it popular... It was a Very Special Episode and presumably had a larger-than-normal budget, but being able to produce that on a TV show's budget at all is still jaw-dropping.
  • The scene in Heroes in which Claire has just taken enough radiation to kill a platoon of Marines. She steps outside and horrifies her family and neighbors as she looks like burnt meat. And then, as she walks towards her family....her skin, eyes, and hair all restore themselves to their pristine condition. This TV show went toe-to-toe with the Visual Effects of the movies, and WON.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles features some very good effects, particularly the effects makeup used on the Terminators themselves. The big shootouts, explosions and fight sequences do look like they came right out of a feature film. Not forgetting the title sequence which shows Terminator components coming together in mid-air, and then the eyes light up.
  • John Adams, the HBO miniseries, isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of truly incredible special effects. Then you watch this.
  • Early on, Sanctuary didn't have much of a budget. What they did have was a pretty good CGI team that made almost every set used in the first season. After a few seasons, they got the budget to build some real sets, and it's still pretty awesome that finding where they built stuff and where they used computers can be pretty hard.
  • Ernie Kovacs was most likely the first who took the medium of television and really experimented with it as much as he could. Not just comedically, but especially visually. Just look at parts one and two of this sketch known as Eugene.
  • SUPERMARIONATION!!! While the puppets themselves may or may not be failures, you got to admit the vehicles are AWESOME!!! This, among other things, is what puts the Super in Supermarionation.
  • From the final episode of Robin Hood, the explosion that destroys Nottingham Castle.
  • For a show suffering from a critical lack of budget in its final seasons, Smallville managed to pull off some very impressive visual effects in its Grand Finale with the planet Apokolips moving through space towards Earth and almost crushing Metropolis.
  • Outcasts had some amazing special effects for a mostly un-remembered TV series. Shots of Carpathia from space, with the colony ship hanging over it, looked stunning, as did the white-out and the disease's visible effects.
  • For a TV Movie, March of the Dinosaurs has pretty nice special effects.
  • The Goodies has some pretty damn good FX for a 70s BBC show (in fact, Doctor Who might have learned a thing or two from them). Just watch the climax of the episode "The Movies" for some truly awesome examples. People run in and out of movie screens, a back-projected truck turns into a real one, and there's so much creative use of doubles that even the cast got confused.
  • The Muppets. You tell me they aren't alive. Later productions also try and use CG for special effects, but it's often not as fondly remembered. Crazy Harry's explosions on The Muppet Show? Real. Gonzo smashing into Statler and Waldorf's balcony on a motorbike? They did something and it still looks good today.


Other[edit | hide]

  • It's not part of a movie or a TV show or anything of the sort, but the fifty-foot Giant Spider La Princesse is amazing. Even when she's walking and you can clearly see her operators... The man who made her has made other giant marionettes, some of them in the Uncanny Valley, all of them very impressive.

He creates machines, machines which are both beautiful and crazy, giant animals, strange contraptions which play music, boats which sail across the land, birds from where you can have a drink in a daydream, a world which is both real and dreamlike and which invades cities for beautiful, moving and crazy celebrations.

  • Demoscene deals with those visual effects very often.
  • Homestar Runner, mainly starting with 'A jorb well done', pretty much teaches us how well you can animate with Flash (minus the Power by the cheat shorts, but's that's intentional) Your Mileage May Vary on the character designs, though.
    • Keep in mind that most of it is done at less than 20fps. Now tell me it isn't impressive.
  • Compiz deserves a mention here - not only did it start a compositing craze that resulted in both GNOME and KDE adding compositing capability to their respective window managers, it's also responsible for causing a massive clean-up of the FOSS graphics stack.
  • The Muse music video Sing for Absolution. Just... all of it. Every second, every frame. Particularly special mention must go to the shot as the spaceship is taking off... Damn, that's one hell of a cityscape.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights has quite a few scenes and effects that seem far beyond the capabilities of a theme park trying to fit everything into a single, small building. Some examples from 2011:
    • Saws n' Steam: Into the Machine includes a full waterfall inside the queue of the Jaws ride.
    • The In-Between uses special paint and 3D glasses to give the impression of having walked into another dimension that violates all laws of physics and perspective, including a near-invisible floor (giving the impression of walking on fog) and a room full of lasers reflecting and refracting off of glass walls.
    • Winter's Night and The Thing both have falling snow indoors, and Winter's Night manages to create actual frost on props in Florida.
    • Acid Assault using 3D projections to make it look like the buildings on New York street are collapsing.
  • Universal Studios Tour's new King Kong 3D experience, where Kong saves the tram from a bunch of hungry T-rexes... after they drool all over the passengers!
  • At Disneyland and Disney World, the mist screen projections in Fantasmic were definitely this when it first premiered although don't have quite the impact these days due to Technology Marches On. However the new version of the show in Tokyo, along with World of Color use an updated, high definition version of the same system that is flat out breathtaking.
    • and now Disney Dreams at the Paris resort which has combined the mist screens with projections on the castle[1] and Disney's trademark fireworks of awesome.
  • ILM's contributions in Star Tours, Captain EO and Transformers: The Ride should all warrant mentions.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Slender Man Mythos tends to have nice visual effects, especially in terms of the wicked distortion that goes on when Slendy's about, but in particular Tribe Twelve's greatest strength is its spectacular Slenderman-tentacle effects. They may not be shown for long periods of time, but seeing them is awesome.
  • Ryan Vs. Dorkman. Two visual effects animators stage a lightsaber duel in an abandoned warehouse. End result: millions of views, worldwide adulation, and its own page on The Other Wiki.
  • FedConIX (2009) opening video, features a CGI short film featuring the USS Kelvin from the 2009 Star Trek exploring a ringed planet when they are attacked by what looks like a squadron of Klingons. In swoops the Enterprise to save the day. Honestly, of all the computer-generated models, this video was the most seamless ever. Every phaser and torgedo blast, every asteroid, they even showed the subtle difference in the metal plating of the older Kelvin and the newer Enterprise. Awesome? Ya think??!
  • There She Is. As if the whole damn thing wasn't gorgeous enough from the beginning, the scene where the screen expoldes at the airport in Step 5 is something else.
  • Jon Lajoie's video for "Pop Song", which parodies the music videos of young male pop singers such as Justin Bieber.
  • The latest season of Red vs. Blue is this with Rooster Teeths addition of Monty Oum (the maker of Haloid) into their ranks. Not only is the CG very cool in it self but even better is that it is put into several Halo 3 levels perfectly. And then the fights (especially ep. 10 and 19) is just jawdropping, especially for a online-show. (ep 10 can be found here)
  • Freddie Wong. This one man can do what entire effects studios strive for.
  • This trailer for an animated short. No words can describe it's beauty, especially on a low budget.
  • The Backwater Gospel, an animated short about a small town who is terrified by the appearance of the Undertaker, whose arrival always means death. The animation is 3D, but looks very sketchy and gritty, and the whole thing has a dark, eerie and extremely atmospheric feel to it. Points for when (spoilered because it's best if taken by surprise) the Undertaker's wings first flicker into view and the scene where all the villages turn on each other and rip each other to shreds, which is almost entirely in silohette. Even just the detail put into the props, such as the Tramp's guitar, and the little details like only animating the details of the eyes during strong moments of anger and fear, is absolutely fantastic. And all from a small group of college students.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • While it seems dated now, the second level in Unreal was, for the time, nothing short of mindblowing. The first level was a rather standard, if well-done indoors level, which would not look out-of-place in Quake. Then, the second level, you step out of the ship into a massive, outdoors world, with no clipping or fog to be seen. The sheer difference is amazing, even now. Back then, when even the best graphics designers in the game industry where still playing with shades of brown and green and talking about "polygon counts", here comes a lush, fully 3D jungle environment in believable color. For anyone that was into PC gaming at the time, no other game graphics triumph has ever come close, mere logical progressions to Unreal's quantum leap.
    • Unreal Tournament. Facing Worlds.
    • While we're looking back: Wolfenstein 3D. Real-time, texture-mapped 3D rendering on a 286 PC with stock VGA graphics—something that didn't even have a blitter, much less any sort of Polygonal Graphics hardware. Back in 1992, that was mindblowing, especially considering how weak a 286 was even then.
  • Gradius Gaiden, stage 7. A seemingly ordinary volcano stage getting sucked into a black hole, rock by rock, along with enemies, their projectiles, and your own missiles. And with very little slowdown too, unless you're playing on a PlayStation 2.
  • Mass Effect's space scenes were good, but less than mind-blowing: the technical "graphics" of the game had been toned down to fin the massive amount of content. Mass Effect 2, however, spanned 15 GB on the PC and 2 disks for the 360. The graphics, particularly those that apply to people speaking, were stunning.
    • What stood out was the planet from the Normandy Crash Pack DLC. It's a beautiful ice planet, with the low sunlight creating areas of both light and dark, the stars visible in the sky, and some aurorae just for good measure.
    • Lampshaded in the Overlord DLC, in which the Firewalker's VI prompts you to look out at the scenery when "Sensors indicate that an aesthetically pleasing view" is nearby.
    • Really, almost every environment and location in Mass Effect 2 looks excellent. Illium and Omega in particular are breathtaking and also have an awesome sci-fi feel to them. Some of the downloadable content also has some outstanding environments. The Shadow Broker's ship in Lair of the Shadow Broker and seeing the Mass Relay get closer and closer in The Arrival.
    • The entire 'Escape from Earth' scene in Mass Effect 3. Hell, anything involving the Reapers looks stunning.
  • In Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3 / Shutokou Battle 01, one racer, when challenged in the rain, causes the rain to turn into blood. Another racer, when battled, results in a dramatic shift of the screen's tones and the Saint Elmo's Fire effect to appear when going up to higher speeds.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night brings us Alucard, who at the time of the game's release captivated gamers with his sprite animations. Especially his cape.
    • Go to Spriters Resource or such and look at his sprite sheet. There are about 30 frames for his running animation.
  • Crysis is a game that lives and breathes this.
    • Crysis 2 is excellently described by its producers as "catastrophically beautiful".
  • Uncharted is one of the few next-gen shooters to avert Real Is Brown, and it looks amazing.
    • The sequel turns it up to 11 and breaks the dial. The entire game's visual fidelity is unmatched on a console and I doubt it ever will be. Naughty Dog even threw in a Take That against other developers with an unlockable graphics filter called "Next-gen" which makes everything bloomy and brown. It's almost as if they're daring anyone else to break routine and even attempt to make something that looks as good as Uncharted 2.
    • Uncharted 3 has mind-blowingly gorgeous scenery, from a mansion burning to the ground around you to firefights in a sinking abandoned cruise ship, which as it starts to fill turns the entire environment sideways. In the special features, it was mentioned that waves were in fact rendered in real-time. You're fighting on a ship that is rocking on actual waves. The desert scenery is similarly beautiful.
      • Special mention goes to the facial expressions. They could have used motion capture, since they already had the actors playing the scenes. But no, they animated the expressions from scratch, and the Uncanny Valley is mostly avoided with only a few major exceptions.
      • "Naughty Dog outdoing themselves with the third game"? Hm. Sounds familiar.[2]
  • Shadow of the Colossus. The whole thing.
  • Okami. One of the most beautiful art styles in gaming, ever. It truly looks like a painting in motion, and easily holds a candle to more technologically impressive games like the above examples. Another example of utterly gorgeous cel-shading is The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, with its dazzling water and fire effects.
    • Wind Waker is one of the finest implementations of cel shading.
  • Find a video of BioShock (series)'s intro on Youtube. Watch it. Would you kindly pick up your jaw from the floor?
    • Naturally, the sequel looks even better.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare might've "cheated" by using Real Is Brown, but even now the graphics still look absolutely fantastic.
    • C'mon, why else did they set the intro level on a cargo ship in the middle of a raging storm?
    • If that didn't say something about the graphics, the invasion at the beginning of the Marine campaign certainly did.
    • On the darker side of this trope, we have the nuclear explosion.
    • The Prypiat missions contain some of the most gorgeous usages of gray filter.
    • Modern Warfare 2 keeps up the amazing displays. The exterior of the Gulag and the Rio missions are wonderful displays of beauty, but war-ravaged Washington D.C. is simply jaw-dropping, whether from amazement or sheer horror.
    • And Modern Warfare 3 keeps up the trend, with more war-torn cities like New York, Paris, London and Prague. The scene with the Eiffel tower collapsing is absolutely jaw-dropping.
  • The original Call of Duty is one of the best-looking games that use the id Tech 3 engine. Not only the visuals are quite realistic for their time, they also look beautiful. its expansion pack, United Offensive, is even better looking.
    • Perhaps the best example of this trope in the original is a level where you raid the German battleship Tirpitz. In the sequel, the looks of the Sicily and Bastogne levels are simply fantastic.
  • The way Middle-Earth is presented in The Lord of the Rings Online is a lot of the time breathtaking, especially Moria. From entering through the Hollin Gate and all the way to the East Gate, you can really see why Moria was considered the grandest of the Dwarvish halls. One could only imagine what it would look like before it's fall.
    • Honorable mention goes to Caras Galadhon (Lothlorien), especially by night, and the view when first entering Rivendell.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: It's just the little things, really. Like how they got the hair to look so nice in game, despite the fact that it's probably just a bunch of flat planes sticking out of their heads with a partly transparent texture mapped on.
  • Tales of Vesperia, full stop. Oh my God. It's nothing short of stunning sometimes.
  • The inevitable Heavy Rain. Wow. If that's what this generation can do, then the next generation is already here.
  • Project Origin. The Origin facility crater is nothing short of mind-boggling. Scenery Gorn at its finest.
  • I was initially turned off of buying Mercenaries 2 because some people told me that the graphics hadn't been updated very well. I finally bought a used copy on the cheap, and the first time I stood on a mountaintop, looking over Venezuela, I decided that all the people I listened to years ago were full of shit, because Mercenaries Venezuela looks absolutely gorgeous.
  • Panau in Just Cause 2 looks absolutely spectacular on its own, but try putting your destination on the opposite side of the map. A little marker saying "15 km" or something like that pops up... and you can see your destination. That's right, this game renders stuff over 15 kilometers away (about 9.3 miles if you're American), still looks amazing, and it's all one seamless map. Try to top that.
  • Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel have some of the most utterly gorgeous levels in any game, a fantastic art style and color palette, and brilliantly creative areas. I still don't know how they managed to accomplish one of the best-looking games this gen on the much weaker hardware. Regardless, both games are completely beautiful.
    • Super Mario 64 might look a little flat and low-res now, but back in 1996 when it came out my gob was smacked and my flabber well and truly ghasted. I was playing a 3D cartoon and it moved beautifully!
  • Sonic Unleashed, especially the Play Station 3 / Xbox 360 versions. Day or night, the Hedgehog Engine has really done this game some justice, a huge improvement from the rather bland visuals of the previous |main titles. Even Eggmanland looks amazing.
    • The Wii/PS2 version's graphics aren't too shabby, either. The levels look pretty nice, but the Gaia Gates look beautiful.
    • The forthcoming Sonic Generations uses the same graphics engine as Unleashed, and already looks incredible from gameplay footage. The re-imagining of the original Green Hill Zone now includes huge backdrops full of amazing scenery; of particular note are the massive waterfalls and the underground river in Modern Sonic's level.
    • Let's not forget Sonic Colors, which looks better on the Wii than a lot of games look on the 360. I once completely missed the dialogue in a cutscene because I was so busy admiring the texture on Eggman's gloves. On a larger scale, everything about Planet Wisp is intensely drool-inducing.
  • Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 stays true to its 2.5D predecessor, and offers next to the comic style the famous long-time CG scenes of the series, realistic particle effects, very advanced shading and literally brilliant water.
    • It also features FMV cutscenes of the actual in-game units, all beautifully rendered—it's one thing to see, say, submarines that can turn into aircraft or floating tanks or four-story mecha in gameplay, but it's quite another to see them in live action.
  • The Myst series has a few. You might consider pre-rendering to be "cheating", but some of the pre-rendered graphics are incredible.
    • Serenia in Myst IV, full stop. It's like some Tolkien-esque fantasy world, only you get to run around in it. Haven and Spire were good, but Serenia was breathtaking.
    • Riven in, well, Riven. A vast world that is far removed from the emptiness of Myst.
    • All of the coming-in-for-a-landing clips that play when you use a linking book should rate a mention, as do the various roller-coaster animations that mark the completion of Ages in Exile or Revelation. Whoa...
  • One of the main draws to the original Sonic the Hedgehog and the Sega Genesis was that the graphics looked incredible. It may look dated now, but the genius use of parallax scrolling and vibrant colors really showed off the console.
  • Alan Wake looks fairly good on its own, and then you get the flares and flare guns. Dramatic, awesomely flickering red light? Check. Amazing-looking smoke? Check. Bullet Time if you pull one out while surrounded by mooks? Check. And, above all, safety (because Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil are literal)? Check.
  • The two Nintendo 64 Zeldas have their moments of this, but The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker AND The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess are just works of art in comparison. The credits sequence of Twilight Princess edges into Scenery Porn. Did I mention that Wind Waker turns eight years old by December 2010?
  • In the Metroid Prime games, there are two that immediately come to mind:
    • When a flash of bright light occurs, be it from an explosive blast or regular Scan Visor use in Corruption, you can see Samus's eyes. It's especially impressive in Corruption, since you can also see how far she's been corrupted in her eyes and the other facial features.
    • In Prime 1 and 3, when you use the X-Ray visor, you can see the bones inside of her hands. Prime 1 also has her hand change positions for each beam she uses, which is a very nice easter egg.
    • Oh my god, the Sanctuary Fortress from Echoes. Yeah, Echoes might be Nintendo Hard in all the wrong ways, but that last level was so worth slogging through Torvus Bog.
  • One of the most amazingly impressive effects ever achieved on the Game Boy Advance was the Catastrophe summon from Golden Sun: The Lost Age. Watch it here.
    • OH FUCK YES
    • Everything in both Golden Sun games was awesome. The psuedo 3D for battle scenes pushed the GBA. Nearly all of the higher level summons were multi-sprited.
    • And now we have Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, which manages to exceed the originals in graphical quality. Say what you will about the gameplay, this game really pushes the DS.
  • Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch was just straight awesome in Super Smash Bros.: after shouting the name, he unleashed a fiery punch complete with a 2D image of his emblem. Then along comes Melee and he keeps the punch, only now the flames morph into a falcon spreading its wings.
  • You can use an Action Replay MAX to ramp up the frame rate and visual quality in XGRA and it looks brilliant.
  • GOD OF WAR.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and by the same company, Fallout 3. In both games, the moment you first come out of the starting dungeon/vault and see the open world can take your breath away.
    • That's not even being fair to the sheer awesomeness factor of both games. In oblivion, each area has its own feel to it, and has really good graphical effects to it, and the colors look downright beautiful. Fallout 3 starts out when you exit your vault and see natural light for the first time in your life. After the screen stops glowing you get to see this. Words fail to describe the awesome, and kinda sad.
  • The animated sequences in the Professor Layton games. Fluid, beautiful animation on the Nintendo DS, a system not known for its graphics capabilities, and they only get better in the newer games. The game itself has some beautifully done background areas.
  • Odin Sphere. The entire game. I don't care if it's in 2D, everything from the characters to the deep backdrops are hand-painted and simply gorgeous.
  • Homeworld. Never before have such limited techniques and technology been put to such utterly beautiful use. Despite being 11 years old.
  • Blizzard's games, such as World of Warcraft and StarCraft are not known for this...but the cinematics very, very much are. See the new Cataclysm trailer.
    • Star Craft 2 actually has outstandingly cinematic graphics, and most of its cutscenes are rendered is the same engine.
  • It may not be the shiniest game, but Sins of a Solar Empire is impressive in that you can zoom in to see a single fighter craft in battle, or zoom out to see several star systems, and every single level in between that. All of them quite detailed and able to manipulate the camera in a 360-degree sphere.
  • City of Heroes' Ultra Mode was added to allow players with higher-end graphics cards to take advantage of their processing power. When it's turned on, detail goes through the roof, including real-time shadows and reflections in glass and water. The new areas in Praetoria were designed to take advantage of Ultra Mode, and they look amazing.
  • Super Robot Wars seems to outdo itself with each major release, both in recreating the feel of existing characters as well as doing their own thing with their Original Generation. Sure, it's made entirely out of anime visual cliches, some of which were originally "shortcuts" to begin with, but it's pulled off so well that by the time of Super Robot Wars Z you could be forgiven for forgetting that this is basically a sprite-based game with Super Deformed characters. Heck, even the DS games are absolutely amazing.
  • Say what you want about Fable III, you can't deny that the graphics are beautiful.
  • Butter Building's numerous rotating towers in Kirby's Adventure, an NES game.
    • And Kirbys Epic Yarn. People argue it looks better than God of War 3! Other games, like Super Star Ultra, have beautiful looking sprites, and games like Canvas Curse have cool looking backgrounds. Kirby games are always beautiful, graphically.
      • Kirby Squeak Squad. The final world. The space-y background looks like a gosh-darn painting.
  • Battletoads used a lot of cool tricks in several levels that you wouldn't believe would be possible on the NES.
  • Any Metal Slug game. The sprites are all extremely fluid and detailed, and the backgrounds have a metric ton of touches put into them. How fluid are the animations? This is the spritesheet for Marco.
  • The Halo series has some of the most beautiful skyboxes you will ever see (and not just in the campaign - the multiplayer maps, especially Reach's Anchor 9, can look wonderful, though there are some throughout the series which are more subtle and possibly even more beautiful because of it). The art style of the 4 different factions you encounter is also wonderfully contrasting - and each is beautiful/cool in its own way. Take the Forerunner designs, particularly the sentinels.
  • Half-Life 2. The Source Engine has aged brilliantly (and Portal 2 is proof of this). The facial animation is great, and the water effects are flat-out amazing. Oh, and so are the fire effects, while we're at it.
    • Speaking of Source facial animations, Valve has recently taken to giving non-human characters facial animations as well, and it's stunning. Just look at Atlas and Pea-body from Portal 2.
    • Some more specific examples... despite coming out in 2004, Half-Life 2 still has quite impressive graphics, and the later games (in particular, Episode 2, which was the first to use the updated version of the Source Engine used in Portal) only go even farther. Some moments that stick out in particular from the Half-Life series are the bridge from Half-Life 2 (it's... just stunning), the moment when you step out of the underground in Episode One and see the ruined city and the Citadel rising above everything, and the moment when Alyx and Gordon overlook City 17 in Episode Two after the train crash—the energy seething around the Citadel over City 17 is as gorgeous as it is dangerous.
    • Meet the Medic from Team Fortress 2 also counts. Yeah, it's cartoonish, but who says it has to be realistic to be awesome?
  • L.A. Noire looks phenomenal, using advanced motion capturing techniques to create the most realistic faces video games have ever seen. Truly has to be seen to be believed.
  • The Donkey Kong Country trilogy. The original game was the first console game (it had already been done in arcades) to feature pre-rendered graphics: something that even Nintendo thought was impossible on the Super NES. In-game graphics have ultimately improved over the years, but when it first came out it was something most people hadn't seen before in a console game.
  • If you really want Visual Effects of Awesome, look no further than Stargate (the sequel to Defender; no relation to the movie), specifically when you use the level warp trick (by flying through a stargate with a certain number of rescued Earthlings). It's truly a sight to behold (and this was 1981; one year after the original came out).
  • Midway released an arcade game called "Kozmik Krooz'r" in the early 1980's. It featured a realistic looking, rotating "flying saucer" that actually wasn't part of the game itself. It was just a prop that was reflected in a mirror. Nonetheless it was considered groudbreaking for the time.
  • Laserdisc games are considered to be a subversion, since they're more like interactive movies than true games (e.g., Dragon's Lair, etc). On the other hand, other games tried to invoke this trope by giving more interactivity (e.g., Cobra Command). However, this usually meant creating actual game graphics to overlay onto the video.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. The in-game graphic was rather nice but the story trailer really takes the cake.
  • F-Zero X and F-Zero GX: X isn't very detailed, but it never drops the framerate. GX looks wonderful, and also never drops the framerate. Why is that awesome? Because the games move at a really damn fast pace.
  • Conduit 2. The first level takes place on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. If you look down, you can see waves. Not still water with vague ripples on them, actual waves. Most Play Station 3 and 360 games don't even have that, and the developers pulled it off on a Wii.
  • Witcher 2. THE.WHOLE.DAMN. THING. If you don't agree, then you haven't seen it, or just plain out lying.
  • Many of the things in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Next time you play, go look at the trophies for the playable characters or the assist trophies and look at how detailed the skin, clothes, etc are-Peach's dress has several layers to it that make it seem like something from the real world, Ness' backpack, hat and t-shirt have real visible seams in them, denim jeans and overalls has seams, buttons, etc. to look like real articles of clothing, the Ice Climbers' hoods have very well-rendered fur, Dedede, who normally just has a weird sash underneath his coat, was given a kimono, and Link's, well, everything. Character designs aside, many of the final smashes-particularly Triforce Slash, Great Aether, PK Starstorm, and Lucario's Aura Laser-look REALLY great. Some people will only turn Smash Balls on to see those final smashes.
    • Also, the cutscenes from "The Subspace Emissary," especially "The Great Invasion." The Subspace Gunship is pretty darn detailed.
    • The Subspace Gunship is so detailed, that the game actually lags when you zoom in on the trophy of it!
  • So maybe the Dead or Alive Xtreme subseries is just a blatant excuse to show the girls of DOA in the skimpiest bikinis known to man, but all "playing with one hand" jokes aside, it features some pretty amazing visual effects... Yes, other than the physics-defying breasts. Just consider that whatever girl you chose is rendered in real time in whatever ridiculous outfit you chose, plus the jiggling of her hair, clothes and... Other aspects.
  • Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance brought us the cel-shaded cutscenes. They have this cool anime-style appearance that at times almost look hand-drawn.
  • Baten Kaitos. Good lord. The stunning pink and purple clouds of Diadem, the vibrant trees and lush jungles of Anuenue, the hallucinatory beauty of Mira and the Trail of Souls...everything in that game is gorgeous.
    • Then Origins came out two years later and topped it. The scenery mostly looks the same, but the character models are infinitely better, especially the battle animations. Pull off something like The Apotheosis or Crimson Skytooth and tell me it doesn't look amazing.
    • How about the spiritual predecessor, Chrono Cross? Sure, the PS 1 graphics haven't aged that well, but it still looked fantastic back in the day.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Just look at these videos and try to deny that your jaw didn't drop to the floor!
  • DJMAX Technika. An arcade game running at 720p, it has some of the most stunning music videos to grace the Rhythm Game genre. All while the gameplay runs at 60 frames per second, no less.
  • When Street Fighter III first came out, many reviews insulted the sprite graphics; 3D models were becoming the norm. Indeed, a still shot of the game looks pretty mediocre by today's standards with the limited technology making it very pixelated. However, a still image misses the most important thing about Street Fighter III's graphics: The movement. Most sprite-based fighting games have very choppy movement because easy individual frame requires a ton of work, so only the ending post and start-up are given frames. Street Fighter III has tons of sprites for each character, more than any other fighting game at the time. This made all the movements and actions of the game, including ones as simple as breathing, incredibly smooth and complete looking, to the point that some retroactively consider its spritework the best in any fighting game. The sheer effort put into making all those sprites deserves a round of applause alone.
  • The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time in 3D. Even if you don't play in 3D, it is absolutely jaw-dropping. The moment when you walk out of Link's house into Kokiri Forest is truly jaw-dropping and magical. The Water Temple is so beautiful, it's hard to hate it. The pan-over of the Temple of Time when you first enter it must be seen to be believed. And then you put it into 3D....
  • Heck, the 3DS as a whole. Did anyone really think Nintendo would pull it off when it was announced? The augmented reality games are especially incredible.
  • The Super Copy Abilities and the backgrounds in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
    • And the level in Dangerous Dinner where Kirby is dodging miniature stars.
  • The scene from Pokémon Black and White when N's castle rises out of the ground.
  • The Man-At-Legs in Pikmin 2. Similar to the Subspace Gunship example from above, in the Piklopedia the game will LAG if you get it moving. And the Piklopedia won't even show the thing firing its gun, which must be seen. It's incredible and yet grotesque at the same time.
  • Pick a Cyber Connect 2 game from the PlayStation 2 era onwards: Any of them will qualify, especially after Cyber Connect 2 formed the studio Sensible Art Innovation, which they used not only for movie making, but utilizing it as part of their current console generation cutscene maker. With the power of the unreal Engine, Asura's Wrath by Cyber Connect 2 takes the engine to it's limits to get really awesome visuals. Here's an example.
  • When you really look at it, Yoshi's Island really is a beautiful game. There's typically several layers of foreground and background, all of them hand drawn. Not to mention the fact that it really stretched the SNES's capabilities, often using Mode 7 in many different ways.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles, despite the system that it's on, pulls off huge environments with plenty of wildlife with dizzying attention to detail, with fantastic draw distance near unprecedented for the Wii. The game also pulls off the same open-ended structure that several games on the system lacked, even with some of Nintendo's own games!
  • Xexex pulled off many impressive visual effects on top of 3d rendering that were literally ahead of their time. So ahead of its time, it was impossible to port to any system available in 1991 without severely downgrading the graphics or waiting several years.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The scene in Star Wars: Clone Wars where Saesee Tiin flies up to the space battle above Coruscant. You wonder what the fuss is about at first; it's just an ordinary sky filled with stars. Then you notice they aren't all white, and tiny points of light move between them. A few of the stars flare and fade. And then it hits you; they're no stars, they're battle ships, and the sky is absolutely full of them blasting the hell out of each other.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender...just, all of it. Particularly stunning examples include 'The Siege of the North' and the series finale 'Avatar Aang'. Here we see the pure might of the Avatar and his elemental powers, and is awesome.
  • The Legend of Korra uses very dynamic "camera" angles and effects. A great example (but still really just a drop in an ocean) is the scene in episode three when Korra uses fluid, circular dancing motions to get through a spinning maze used for airbending practice.
    • The scene in Episode 1 where Korra is riding on Naga through the snow is almost heartbreakingly beautiful. Excuse me... *sniffle*
  • She-Ra's Transformation Sequence in She Ra Princess of Power. For an otherwise totally low-budget show, this is a true moment of brilliance. Worth seeing Once an Episode, to me anyway.
  • The Greedy sequence in Raggedy Ann and Andy A Musical Adventure, as well as 95% of The Thief and the Cobbler.
  • The "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia. Especially when you think about the fact that it was originally made pre-computer, so it was all done by hand.
    • Fantasia 2000 is no slouch when it comes to amazing-looking sequences. The Firebird segment is the most prominent demonstration of this.
  • Corpse Bride. The only computer effects were the removing of wires for flying creatures, and the fire. The facial expressions are extremely subtle, by use of clockwork mechanics in the puppet's heads. It's a beautiful film.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends had absolutely spectacular model work. The people and animal miniatures were the only tells that those weren't real trains. Sadly, following the fifth season things became less and less realistic, and now the models have been retired in favour of cut-rate CGI. The quality of writing has deteriorated as well. But this is not the side for that. The model sets were stunning, absolute masterpieces. The engines carried onboard smoke machines that puffed like a real locomotive, the couplings and buffers worked, the buildings and scenery looked like they were plucked from real life. Nil Unquam Simile indeed.
    • Never once did it occur to this troper as a child that those were models. They seriously looked like real, life-sized trains. And the way they moved...with the pistons actually chugging away, and the siderods turning the wheels...just wow.
  • In 1994, one year before Pixar brought Toy Story to the big screen, a little Canadian company by the name of Mainframe Entertainment brought CG to the TV screen with the fully CG animated Re Boot! Cartoons haven't been the same since.
  • Any Fleischer Studios short that features their so-called "tabletop" process. The effect is obviously dated now, but for its time it was considered revolutionary.
  • In The Fall Of Gravity, an 11-minute stop motion short whose impossibly smooth animation rivals today's advances in CGI.
  • Futurama. If you don't believe me, watch the episode "The Late Phillip J. Fry", especially the segment in which Fry, the Professor, and Bender watch the universe destroy and recreate itself. That is probably the most beautiful blending of traditional animation and CGI on a standard 30-minute television program this troper has ever seen. It is even more beautiful in HD.
  • Transformers Prime. The faces may feel goofy at first, but after a few episodes you will quickly forget that fact. They have to keep the cast low due to the CGI and budget, but despite this they have managed to impress and terrify a new generation of fans.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is one of the most beautiful Flash-animated products ever, because most of the time, it doesn't really seem like Flash animation. Very few if any shortcuts are used and some things that some consider to be impossible to pull off in Flash are pulled off beautifully. The second season episodes look particularly dazzling.
    • Scenes that deserve special mention are Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor's love spell, the underground cave Queen Chrysalis traps Twilight in, and the pegasus-powered water tornado in "Hurricane Fluttershy".
    • There are also many instances where the possibilities of Flash are used very cleverly. For instance, populating backgrounds with more or less randomly-generated ponies rather than using Faceless Masses.
  • If one had to single out the sole favorable aspect of the So Okay It's Average Hero Factory animated show, then it would probably be the CGI. Sure, backgrounds can seem a bit empty, and early crowd scenes offered some interesting sights (like Von Ness, a character that canonically didn't exist anymore appearing suddenly), but they're ironing these out with every new episode. And they have plenty of time for improving, seeing as there are only a couple of episodes released every year.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • It's actually quite realistic.
  • Every. Single. Cirque Du Soleil. Show. Ever.
  • Sarah Brightman embarked on her "Symphony" tour in 2008, which junked all the theatrical staging she usually utilizes for holographic technology. The result was a stripped down stage with a hollowed out stage that included a b-stage and 3 gigantic screens for the holograms hovering above it. The holograms are HOLY FUCK awesome. At times it'll appear like she's standing on a hovering platform. During Dust in the Wind, she appears in a fairytale-like forest with fireflies floating around. During certain songs, her and her dancers will be on the hollowed out portion of the stage, while their image is projected on the screens, making it appear as if she's laying on the screens. Thats just the beginning. You could look at this photo, but that wouldn't do it justice.
  • Go to any of the old Gothic Cathedrals. Once you tear your eyes away from the actual statues, stained glass and other noticeable art, look at the lighting. The windows cast light in exactly the right places, almost subconsciously pointing you where to look. Now that's a cool visual effect.
    • Europe is amazing for this, especially to an American as our evangelical protestant tradition generally leaves something lacking in houses of worship. As a hardcore atheist, I felt a very real and very strong desire to fall on my knees upon stepping into my first Italian church.
  • Some of the larger astronomical events like total solar eclipses, meteor storms, auroras and gazing at the Milky Way away from the city. It's during those moments that you realise how vast the universe is, and how much there is out there that is waiting for us to explore and learn. Real Life already has a lot of good visual effects like sunsets and thunderstorms, but there are times when reality decides to treat us to something really special.
  • Vocaloid. CONCERT. It happened. It was holograms. There's many moments where you forget that the Vocaloids are holograms of anime characters and start believing that they're real singers. The hair in particular moves beautifully.
    • Gorillaz did similar concerts too. Especially in their 2005 MTV performance.
    • It was a rear projection onto a mostly-transparent screen. It was 2D. Holograms are 3D.
  • While a good number of effects go into a typical attraction at the Disney Theme Parks, special mention has to go the Haunted Mansion's including a disappearing ceiling in the Stretching Room and the Ghost Ball Room sequences, which are some 60 year old effects that still look real today.
  • Mount Rainier in Seattle in the middle of the night as a full moon shone down on it. It looked like someone had wrapped the top of the mountain in shining silver. Sometimes God decides to remind us that he is the universe's original Badass.
  • The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Holy crap.
    • Some parts were actually digitally added in real time. They were practically indistinguishable from the live segments unless you had a trained eye or read about it.
  • Many huge spectacle musicals of the 80s and early 90s feature magnificent live theatrical effects. From Phantom of the Opera's falling chandelier to the helicopter from Miss Saigon, it's all very very cool.
  • The mother of all stage effects spectaculars has to be Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular. Fifteen life-sized animatronic and puppeteered dinosaurs, including a Tyrannosaurus and her baby, a Stegosaurus, a very large Brachiosaurus and a flying Ornithocheirus invade a stadium or arena, move around, roar and interact with a time-travelling narrator. Have a look for yourself.
  • The Lion King Broadway Musical. When I saw it in New York for the first time, the Circle of Life sequence already had my jaw dropped...and it only got better. The Wildebeast stampede was so incredible that my mom (who went with me) continues to make it the first thing to tell people about when asked how our trip was. The scene where Mufasa's head appears in the cloud got a standing ovation from the audience. (it was done via people, camoflaged in black in the back of the stage, taking large carved pieces of wood on sticks and assembling them just right and then shining lights on the huge, wooden lion head.) Not to mention the mechanics of the costumes.
  • Trompe l'oeil painting, an ultra-realistic form of painting whose very name means "trick the eye." In one particular case, a monastery was famed for its beautifully decorated dome. For four hundred years, people went to the monastery just to see it. Then someone decided it needed to be cleaned and restored, so they raised ladders into the ceiling. The dome was a trompe l'oeil painting. Best part? The monastery has a flat roof.
  • The most beautiful tornado you'll ever see.
  • Rainbows and prisms are light showing off its F/X talents.
  • Looking down at any major city from an airplane's window after dark can be visually spectacular, especially around the holidays.
  • When I was last in Paris, France (2008), the Eiffel Tower was decorated with dark blue lights and large stars to resemble the European Union flag. It sounds really simple, but it was really very beautiful, especially when seen from a distance.
  • Most stage magicians who specialise in optical illusions are rather good at this trope ... almost by definition, since it's their job to make you think something happened that didn't. David Copperfield is one of those artists who takes this trope up to eleven: google up his flying sequence, or disappearing the Statue of Liberty, for examples of how he makes this work in real life.
  • Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland. Once a year, at sunrise on the winter solstice, the first light of the day shines all the way down the entrance passage to light up the main chamber, to stunningly beautiful effect. It's believed that when it was built, this happened at the exact moment of sunrise (now it happens four minutes after). And it was built, with all the precise engineering required to achieve that, five thousand years ago.
  • The North Korean Arirang Festival has over 30,000 children holding up colored cards (called "card stunt" in the West) that make very pretty pictures which are usually the symbols of North Korea. In a nutshell, pixel art in Real Life
  1. which itself came from the nightly guest montage Magic, Memories, and You in Florida and California
  2. Without counting the first game, of course. On the other hand, some levels in "CB 3: Warped" are, for lack of better words, gorgeous.
  3. other than Pride, as Square themselves confirmed in retrospect
  4. Have you read the other examples above, in this folder, right?