A Tale of Two Movies
Once upon a time, not so long ago, only big-budget movies could afford photorealistic computer-generated imagery (CGI), and even then only for selected scenes. Then again, musicians used to record things called "albums" in music studios that were so expensive they were rented by the hour.
Today, we have desktop machines that outperform the supercomputers of the Terminator 2 era. So just as your Mac laptop can replace an entire music studio, computers can render entire cities—such as Elizabethan London—that used to be shot on location. Meanwhile, one indie filmmaker has figured out how to do high-end CGI on a tight budget, by crowdsourcing some of the production.
An article for the Nov. 2011 issue of IEEE Spectrum magazine.