13 Insane Movies Effects Done Before the Advent of CGI (And How They Did It)

The sci-fi movie Tron (1982) is often cited as the spark that lit the CGI (computer generated imagery) fire. Today, almost every major effect in film is done via computer, or at least digitally augmented to marry practical effects with CGI. It’s more practical (ironically), less expensive, and less time-consuming than doing things for real, in front of the camera. Even still, there are plenty of naysayers who complain that CGI ruins the organic qualities of the medium. Yes, films like Avatar and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace look great, but they don’t feel real. Believe it or not, there were great special effects before the advent of CGI. Here are some crazy movies made before CGI.

One aspect we can’t ignore regarding movie effects before CGI is the painstaking process effects teams went through for mere seconds of footage. It took John Landis and Rick Baker months to plan the two-and-half-minute werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf in London. For their efforts, Rick Baker won an Academy Award for Best Makeup in 1982. The transformation scene is often regarded as one of the coolest scenes in horror movie history.

Prosthetics, makeup, miniature models, and in-camera tricks are just a few of the ways how they made movies before CGI. Check out these films with cool practical effects that were completely generated without the use of a computer.