What is CGI?

Quck answer

CGI (Common Gateway Interface) is a standard protocol for web servers to communicate with external programs. It allows dynamic generation of web content by executing scripts or programs on the server side. When a user requests a webpage, the web server sends the request to the CGI program, which processes the request, generates the content, and sends it back to the server. The server then delivers the dynamic content to the user’s browser. CGI is commonly used for forms, interactive websites, and dynamic web applications. It enables the creation of interactive and personalized web experiences.

Are you a fan of movies? Do you enjoy watching animation or live-action films? Have you ever watched a movie in 3D and marveled at the realistic special effects? Have you ever wondered how movie makers create those effects? Well, it’s not magic! Most of the time, they use a technique called Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).

CGI involves the use of computer graphics to create images and special effects in movies. Have you ever imagined using the Force like Luke Skywalker? Or going on an adventure “To infinity and beyond!” with Buzz Lightyear? Or maybe you’ve dreamed of visiting Jurassic Park? All of these movies utilize CGI to bring their imaginative worlds to life.

To create CGI, designers first create the graphics for the movie. They pay close attention to details like texture and lighting to make the graphics look as realistic as possible. Then, they seamlessly integrate these graphics into the film. If they have done their job well, the CGI blends in perfectly with the rest of the movie.

The first movie to incorporate CGI was “Westworld,” directed by Michael Crichton, in 1973. A few years later, George Lucas used CGI in “Star Wars.” However, the CGI technology of that time was not as advanced as it is today. The graphics appeared less realistic and often seemed out of place. Nevertheless, these movies captivated audiences by bringing fantasy worlds to life. This motivated designers to strive for improvements in CGI technology.

In 1993, moviegoers were amazed by the lifelike dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park.” The designers of the film made the dinosaurs move and look as realistic as possible, even giving them lifelike skin. These details contributed to the film’s success and pushed movie makers to further enhance CGI technology.

In 1995, filmmakers achieved another milestone by creating the first fully CGI movie, “Toy Story.” The film showcased realistic characters like Woody, Buzz, and Rex, which left audiences in awe. Pixar, the studio behind “Toy Story,” went on to produce more CGI movies such as “Monsters Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”

As CGI continued to improve, its applications expanded. In the 2001 film “Pearl Harbor,” CGI was used to recreate historical events. That same year, Gollum became the first CGI character to interact with live actors in “Lord of the Rings.” Motion capture technology was employed to make Gollum’s movements more realistic by filming a real actor and matching the CGI character to their actions.

Another groundbreaking use of CGI came with the 2009 film “Avatar,” which combined motion capture with facial capture. This resulted in incredibly realistic characters and earned the movie three Oscars. “Avatar” also became the highest-grossing movie of all time, astonishing audiences with its visually stunning fictional world.

Even today, movie makers continue to refine CGI techniques. Have you ever witnessed the Hulk smashing through a wall or seen Iron Man soaring through the sky? If so, you have witnessed CGI in action. CGI is also extensively used in Disney’s live-action films and the “Transformers” series. Moreover, CGI has expanded beyond movies and is now employed in television shows and video games.

Many believe that CGI has forever changed the film industry. Just imagine “Jurassic Park” without lifelike dinosaurs or Thanos without the menacing CGI effects. Would the adventures in “Star Wars” be as captivating without CGI? While not everyone may be a fan of CGI, it has undeniably opened up new possibilities for creating visual effects. Will CGI continue to revolutionize the world of movies, or will another technology emerge to take its place?

Try It Out

If you’re interested in learning more about CGI, here are some activities you can explore with a friend or family member.

  • Enjoy a movie with a companion and point out any CGI effects you notice, explaining what the technology is. Discuss how it impacts the movie you’re watching.
  • Expand your knowledge on CGI by reading more about it. Afterwards, write a paragraph explaining CGI to a friend or family member. What are the key points they should know? What interesting things did you learn?
  • Explore different perspectives on CGI in the film industry. Read an author’s argument against it and consider your own opinion. Do you agree or disagree with any of the points made? Write a letter in response to the article, supporting your viewpoint.

Recommended Sources

  • https://greenlightpix.com/blog/cgi-what-is-it-how-does-it-work/ (accessed 06 May 2019)
  • https://www.tomorrowsworldtoday.com/news/2018/04/26/cgi-and-the-magic-of-movies/ (accessed 06 May 2019)
  • https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/history-cgi/ (accessed 06 May 2019)
  • https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/05/12/how-cgi-changed-movies-forever_a_21358758/ (accessed 06 May 2019)


1. What is CGI?

CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface. It is a standard protocol that allows web servers to interact with scripts or programs on a server to generate dynamic web content. CGI scripts are commonly written in scripting languages like Perl or Python. When a user requests a webpage that requires dynamic content, the web server executes the CGI script, which generates the content and sends it back to the user’s browser.

2. How does CGI work?

When a user requests a webpage with CGI content, the web server identifies the file extension associated with CGI scripts (e.g., .cgi, .pl) and passes the request to the CGI script. The CGI script processes the request, interacts with databases or other resources if needed, and generates dynamic content like HTML, images, or other media files. The server then sends the generated content back to the user’s browser for display.

3. What are the advantages of using CGI?

One advantage of CGI is its versatility. CGI scripts can be written in various programming languages, allowing developers to choose the language they are most comfortable with. CGI also allows for dynamic content generation, enabling websites to display personalized or real-time information to users. Additionally, CGI scripts can interact with databases and other resources, making it easier to create interactive and data-driven websites.

4. Are there any drawbacks to using CGI?

While CGI is a widely used technology, it does have some drawbacks. One drawback is that CGI scripts can be slower compared to other server-side scripting methods, as each request requires the script to be executed separately. This can impact the performance of high-traffic websites. Additionally, CGI scripts need to be executed with proper security measures in place to prevent unauthorized access or malicious activities. Therefore, it is important to ensure proper security configurations when using CGI.

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