Computer graphics are a relatively recent phenomenal in video production. They are the result of that fantastic dichotomy of improved technically and cheaper hardware prices. These allow CG to be included in many more types of production nowadays than merely the high end Hollywood blockbuster.
It was Hollywood that started the craze, however. The first significant usage of computer graphics in film was way back in the early 60’s when Stanley Kubrick created the acid trip inspired final sequences of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the help of amazingly primitive computer technology. Since then the art has slowly been absorbed by the industry, Tron and Sherlock Holmes being early break throughs, but the significant film to bring CG into the main stream proper was Jurassic Park. Since then the time honoured art of Stop-Go animation and other visual effects have been side lined by the stunning worlds created by the likes of Jim Cameron and Guillermo del Toro.
The big money being spent over the last decade or so by the Hollywood studios has filtered down to the rest of the video production industry, providing an enviable set of tools at a reasonable price.
For much CG production work in adverts, music and corporate videos, graphics specialists use Adobe After Effects. This can produce fantastic highly polished visuals that are rendered in a 2D space (i.e. they are not 3D models). This is a mainstay of graphics produced in the video industry and it seems today that more videos than not have at least a dash of After Effects in them.
3D Computer Graphics.
The second main type of computer graphics are those produced and rendered with the likes of Autodesk Maya and 3dStudioMax. These are produced in 3D (they can be viewed from any angle – as opposed to being stereoscopic). These are seen primarily in Hollywood features, although plenty are seen in high end TV adverts and to a lesser extent in music and corporate videos.
The graphics specialist will generally come in after the edit has been finished. Frequently, motion graphics people will also have editing skills, so depending on the scale of the production – it is not uncommon to have one person looking after both disciplines.