3 VFX blockbusters that will blow your mind

It's astonishing what you can create with CG these days: check out these inspiring examples.

When it comes to CG, there is some incredible work taking place in a number of arenas, including archviz, 3D art, videogames and TV.

But when it comes to grabbing attention, nothing can beat the increasingly amazing visual effects seen in blockbuster movies. And here are three great examples: the winner and runners-up respectively of the Best VFX category in last year's CG Awards.

This year's awards – which honour both software and the artists that use it – are now open for nominations (details here), so you can nominate your favourites today at thecgawards.com.

In the meantime, here are the VFX-based movies you loved the most last time around...

01. Gravity

Zero-gravity destruction with a poignant human context

Few VFX films in recent years have grasped the public consciousness quite like Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón’s dizzying space spectacle, which stars Sandra Bullock as a medical engineer plunged into danger when orbiting debris strikes the space shuttle.

The sheer length of many of the shots – the opening tracking shot is 13 minutes long – presented effects house Framestore with a huge technical and logistical challenge, demanding a rock-solid pipeline, proprietary tools, and many late nights.

But while the destruction sequence is a showpiece VFX scene – and the one singled out by this award – Framestore animation supervisor Max Solomon points out that the movie is restrained in its use of effects. Although integral to the film, the CG always serves as a background to the main character’s emotional journey.

The result is a sublime feat of visual storytelling that has redefined the immersive experience and changed filmmaking for good. For more details of how it was made, read Discover the secrets behind Gravity's mindblowing VFX.

02. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Weta brought Tolkein's imagination to vivid life

“The best fantasy creature animation I’ve ever seen,” was CG Awards judge Shelley Page’s verdict on the digital character that landed Weta Digital its nomination. “Smaug is an awe-inspiring achievement in design and performance and his presence dominates every scene.”

According to Eric Saindon, VFX supervisor on The Desolation of Smaug, bringing to life the dragon that Tolkien fans around the world had imagined when reading the source novel was a huge responsibility, but the response has been outstanding.

For more about how the film was made, read our interview with Weta's Kevin Sherwood.

03. Pacific Rim

Watching Pacific Rim was an air-punching experience

While Guillermo del Toro’s mechs-versus-monsters movie has many stand-out sequences, the award nomination went to ILM’s Hong Kong battle sequence, which pits the giant CG creatures against one another in an urban environment – with thrilling results.

For Psyop CG lead and awards judge Jose Maria Andres Martin, the experience of watching Pacific Rim was a communal, enthralling, experience: “It was as rare as it was awesome to see that many people sitting on the edge of their seats, throwing punches into the air,” he said.

For more behind-the-scene details of the movie, read these articles on How the Pacific Rim creatures were made and the artists behind the epic robots.

The CG Awards 2015

The CG Awards 2015 recognises the work of the entire industry: from software and hardware to artists and technicians. This year's awards are now open for nominations, so you can put forward your candidates right now. Just visit thecgawards.com and nominate in one of the 17 categories.