That the new Golden Age of Television coincided with huge advancements in computer-generated effects can’t be a coincidence, right? Sure, celebrated shows like The Wire and Deadwood were maaaybe better known for their writing than they were for CGI, but these days it’s hard to find a classic show that doesn’t somehow include seamless special effects.
Most of the big genre hits have effects that rival or surpass those found in summer movies, but even dramas like Breaking Bad and Mad Men use computer imagery in such crucial ways that these shows may have been prohibitively expensive to produce in earlier eras.
So let’s give all those unheralded tech whizzes their props: Special effects have never been better or more crucial to the shows we love.
Below are some off-the-top-of-our-heads picks for TV shows with the best effects work. Which show’s visuals are YOU constantly amazed by?
Game of Thrones – is another show that uses effects in both ostentatious AND subtle ways. There’s no debate about how straight-up incredible the wildfire incident was, but Season 2 also gave us Dany’s haunting hallucination scene, plus the now-CGI direwolves looked just as organic and normal as their real dog predecessors. And those baby dragons looked so real that I’m pretty sure everyone in the world wants one now.
If not for Machinima, you might be unaware that gamers are terrified of zombies and Return of the Jedi, when you really think about it, has a lot of plot holes.
At this point, most of you are probably wondering: What is Machinima?
An online programming company boasting a fanatical following among young males and a staggering 149 million unique users, last month Machinima’s videos were viewed 1.3 billion times (that’s billion, with a “b”). Across YouTube and other online destinations, Machinima claims a total of 101 million subscribers. To put those numbers in perspective, the CBS TV network has about 350,000 subscribers on YouTube and in six years has earned about 1.2 billion views for its online content (compared to 1.3 billion last month for Machinima).
Machinima (pronounced mah-SHIN-eh-mah) is one of a handful of players building massive media companies off Web programming.
**The upper case use of the word refers to the media company. The lower case refers to the genre, defined as the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation.**
How big is machinima, and Machinima? “As a genre, I’d say that 90 percent of gamers know what it is,” says Tom Akel, executive producer of MTV Geek.“As a company, maybe every college kid playing Madden and Tiger Woods golf doesn’t know them, but most millennial male gamers do.”
An example of machinima: