The Meaning of CGI: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of CGI? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the abbreviation CGI, including its definition, usage, origin, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the acronym CGI stand for?

According to Science Daily, Techopedia, and Tech Target, CGI stands for computer-generated imagery. This is the application of computer graphics – specifically, 3D computer graphics but sometimes 2D – to special effects in films, television programs, and commercials. Video games also use real-time computer graphics as well as pre-rendered cut scenes and intro movies that are also CGI. CGI is also used for visual effects. Using CGI for these effects is usually both higher quality, more controllable, and cheaper than doing physical effects like hiring extras for crowd scenes or constructing miniatures for effects shots. They only need one artist and software rather than thousands of actors, expensive set pieces, or props. CGI ws famously used in Jurassic Park. Nowadays, you see CGI in a plethora of different films – even ones you didn’t think you would. It can be sued for touching up an actor’s face, aging them for a flashback or flashforward, and a plethora of other things. 

CGI can also be used to build a library of props, wireframe models that have properties like reflection and illumination, and images and effects which may not be feasible using other methods. It is also a safe way to carry out complex effects. CGI artists can edit a single frame of media one by one for lifelike visual effects and create complex visualization. This creation of images can also be called VFX. CGI is one of the most cost effective methods for developing videos for electronic media like movies and video games. CGI is extremely versatile and can be used in many different ways to create groundbreaking visual effects for film, TV, video games, and more. 

CGI technology has also been used to replace stop motion animation. Disney and Pixar are famous for making CGI animation. The first film to use computer animation was Toy Story, released in November 1995. Almost every June, they release a new CGI film. 3D animations can also be used for virtual reality films or experiences. Below is a list of Pixar films from Radio Times.

  •  Monsters Inc (2001)
  •  Toy Story 3 (2010)
  •  Incredibles 2 (2018)
  •  Finding Dory (2016)
  •  The Good Dinosaur (2015)
  •  Inside Out (2015)
  •  Ratatouille (2007)
  •  Cars 3 (2017)
  •  Cars 2 (2011)
  •  Coco (2017)
  •  Soul (2020)
  •  Monsters University (2013)
  •  Wall-E (2008)
  •  Up (2009)
  •  Cars (2006)
  •  Toy Story (1995)
  •  Toy Story 2 (1999)
  •  Brave (2012)
  •  The Incredibles (2004)
  •  Finding Nemo (2003)
  •  Toy Story 4 (2019)
  •  Luca (2021)
  •  A Bug’s Life (1998)

Due to the advent of technology becoming cheaper and cheaper, individual artists and small companies can do CGI work from their home computers. Computer speeds are faster, and the computer software is cheaper than ever before, so they can make fine art and magic that could be used in blockbusters right from home. A list of the best CGI tools from Devsaran is below.

  •  Toonz
  •  Digicel FlipBook
  •  Houdini
  •  Autodesk 3ds Max
  •  TVPaint Animation
  •  DrawPlus
  •  Lightwave 3D
  •  Cinema 4D
  •  Bryce
  •  Blender

According to The Free Dictionary, the term CGI can stand for much more than just Computer-Generated Imagery (movie industry). This acronym has a plethora of other definitions. However, these are less common and should be used sparingly. If you do decide to use one of these alternate definitions in the same context in which you would use CGI to mean Computer-Generated Imagery (movie industry), make sure that you provide the proper context or use the full form so that the listener is not confused. 

  •  Compagnie Générale des Insecticides (French: General Insecticides Company)
  •  Caisse de Garantie Immobilière (French: Guarantee Real Estate Fund)
  •  Cell Global Identification
  •  Computer Graphics Imagery
  •  Common Grounds Internet Cafe (an Internet Cafe in Buffalo, NY)
  •  Columbia Grain International, Inc
  •  Chief Ground Instructor (aviation; various locations)
  •  Coast Guard Institute (Oklahoma City, OK)
  •  Common Gateway Interface (web scripting facility)
  •  Cruise Guide Indicator
  •  Cognitively Guided Instruction
  •  Computer Generated Interface
  •  CyberGamer Invitational (gaming)
  •  Combustible Gas Indicator
  •  Corrugated Iron
  •  Cell Global Identifier
  •  Career Guide to Industries (book)
  •  Church of God, International
  •  Can’t Get In
  •  Color Graphics Interface
  •  Compacted Graphite Iron
  •  Casino & Gaming International (publication; UK)
  •  Code Général des Impôts (French Tax Code)
  •  Consulting Group, Inc. (various locations)
  •  Cape Girardeau, MO, USA – Municipal Airport (Airport Code)
  •  Creative Group, Inc. (various locations)
  •  Clinton Global Initiative
  •  Charged Gasoline Injection
  •  Camp Gan Israel
  •  Creative Games International, Inc (Plant City, Florida, USA)
  •  Certified Ground Instructor (FAA aviation training)
  •  Charged Gasoline Injection (Mercedes-Benz)
  •  Computer Graphics International (conference)
  •  Common Rail Gasoline Injection
  •  Carbon Graphite Iron
  •  Chief Gunnery Instructor (various locations)
  •  Compuserve Graphics Interchange
  •  Certificate in General Insurance (accreditation)
  •  Clean Gas Induction (emissions reduction technology)
  •  Commercial Grade Item
  •  Center for Geographic Information
  •  Commanding General Inspection
  •  Consultative Group for Indonesia
  •  Cell Genesys, Inc. (California)
  •  Common Guard Interface
  •  Chamberlain Group, Inc. (est. 1984; Illinois)
  •  Cool Globe Industries (global warming)
  •  Computer Generated Imagery
  •  Corruption and Governance Index
  •  Computer Graphics Interface
  •  Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique (French: Information Systems and Management Consultants)
  •  Centre de Géologie de l’Ingénieur (French: Center of Engineering Geology)
  •  California Graduate Institute (est. 1968)
  •  Center of Gravity Indicator (helicopter instrument)
  •  Control Grid Interpolation
  •  Capital Group International (various locations)
  •  Common Gateway Interface
  •  Consultants to Government and Industry (job sector)
  •  CDC Games International (CDC Corporation; China)
  •  Clinical Global Impression
  •  Catholic Guides of Ireland

Overall, the acronym CGI stands for computer-generated imagery. This visual content refers to 3D graphics that are generated for use in special effects scenes in films, animated movies, or other media. 3D computer graphics are used in many different films’ visual content. There are also numerous other definitions of CGI, though these are less common. If you do decide to use one of these other slang term or shorthand uses of CGI, provide the proper context to the reader to eliminate confusion.


  1. CGI – What does CGI stand for? | The Free Dictionary 
  2. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) | Science Daily 
  3. What is Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)? | Techopedia 
  4. All Pixar Movies in order | timeline and Pixar Theory | Radio Times 
  5. What is CGI (computer-generated imagery)? | 
  6. The Ultimate CGI Depository: Top 10 Consistently Good Animation Software | Devsaran