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scanimate

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  • scanimate
  • pioneer
  • Scanimate
  • technical director
  • animator
  • Patented in 1972, Scanimate was a wall-sized behemoth of knobs, switches, thumbwheel counters, and patch panels. At its heart was a 950 scan-line resolution cathode ray tube (CRT) with special phosphors for a brighter, longer-lasting image. A camera was trained on a light box with flat artwork of the client's logo. The monochromatic video image of the logo from this camera was fed into Scanimate's special CRT. The Scanimate artist could then plug hundreds of little yellow wires into the patch panels, connecting such electronic components as ramp voltages, summing amplifiers, multipliers, rectifiers, diodes, and oscillators in much the same way as with a "50-in-1" electronics kit. These circuits could animate the client's logo on the screen in an infinite ...

  • In the early 1980s, with the digital revolution poised to wash over the effects industry, there were two attempts to create a digitally controlled analog video system. At Image West, David Seig engineered the VERSEFEX, a system in which full-color transparencies could be used as input. Digital oscillators and 3D perspective were incorporated to animate the same video parameters found in Scanimate. At Computer Image Corp., Ed Tajchman created the System IV, a true digital 3D animation system with accurate ...

  • The End

    In the early 1980s, with the digital revolution poised to wash over the effects industry, there were two attempts to create a digitally controlled analog video system. At Image West, David Seig engineered the VERSEFEX, a system in which full-color transparencies could be used as input. Digital oscillators and 3D perspective were incorporated to animate the same video parameters found in Scanimate. At Computer Image Corp., Ed Tajchman created the System IV, a true digital 3D animation system with accurate perspective and digital keyframing. Its input, however, was still monochrome video, and it carried a price tag of around a million dollars. The System IV was used in production (by this author) at Editel in Hollywood from 1983 to 1985 in conjunction with Scanimate. With the introduction of the Ampex Digital Optics (ADO) digital video system in late 1981, digital paint systems such as the Quantel Paint Box in 1982, and affordable 3D animation systems such as the Bosch FGS-4000 in 1983, the era of analog effects was rapidly phased out in the United States by the mid-1980s.

  • Eight Scanimates had been built, six of which were in the United States. Two were in Denver at Computer Image Corporation, Lee Harrison's company. (Harrison's team also created an analog animation device known as CAESAR, which was specifically used for character animation.) Two Scanimates were in New York at Dolphin Productions, and two more were in Hollywood at Image West.

  • how many scanimates?

    Eight Scanimates had been built, six of which were in the United States. Two were in Denver at Computer Image Corporation, Lee Harrison's company. (Harrison's team also created an analog animation device known as CAESAR, which was specifically used for character animation.) Two Scanimates were in New York at Dolphin Productions, and two more were in Hollywood at Image West.

  • The Golden Days The aesthetics of television graphics were driven by analog technology in the 1970s and early '80s, and were defined by such Scanimate effects as shining gold logos flying over glowing grids and sparkling star fields. Because Scanimate used a video CRT, optical devices such as star filters, shower glass, or rainbow filters could be placed in front of the lens to make the logos glow or twinkle. A Scanimate suite was much like a video-editing suite; image ...

  • The Golden Days

    The Golden Days The aesthetics of television graphics were driven by analog technology in the 1970s and early '80s, and were defined by such Scanimate effects as shining gold logos flying over glowing grids and sparkling star fields. Because Scanimate used a video CRT, optical devices such as star filters, shower glass, or rainbow filters could be placed in front of the lens to make the logos glow or twinkle. A Scanimate suite was much like a video-editing suite; image sources were combined through a video switcher using wipes, cross-dissolves, luminance keying, and chroma keying. Multiple images could be played back from multiple videotape machines through the switcher. Scanimate could be triggered to run in sync with any tape deck. (This was before the invention of VHS, Beta, or digital videotape. The professional video standard format at this time was reel-to-reel two-inch videotape!) Scanimate animation could be recorded on one tape machine, played back with another pass added on top, and then recorded to another machine. These video techniques enabled Scanimate trickery to be used, for example, to create 3D gold flying logos. Here's the secret: An artist programmed Scanimate to create an undulating golden texture using oscillators patched into the INTENSITY parameter. (At Image West, we referred to this effect as "Thrill-o-vision!") A 3D logo, physically carved from balsa wood, was attached to a wooden dowel and connected to a stepper motor. The front surface of the carved logo was painted white, and the extruded sides were painted gray. The whole logo was then mounted in front of a chroma key blue background. Patching these signals into the video switcher, the artist defined the logo's white front surface as a luminance key hole. He then replaced it with the moving gold texture from Scanimate. Setting a different luminance key for the gray surfaces, he patched a darker gold texture into the extruded sides. He then created a streaking Scanimate star field and replaced the chroma key blue with that. The artist added another Scanimate pass to make the logo glow and used an Apple II computer to drive the motor to rotate the logo. Voilá! A 3D gold logo rotating through space! All this was recorded to tape in real time with the capability to change speeds, color, or motion as the client and art director supervised.

  • For a more in-depth look at analog video animation, see "ANALOG to DIGITAL?Conversion: A History of Video Animation" by Ed Kramer, published in the Conference Proceedings?of the National Computer Graphics Association, Volume II, 1987 pp. 363-382. You also can visit the?Scanimate Web page, maintained by former Image West engineer David Seig, at http://scanimate.zfx.com

  • for more information ...

    For a more in-depth look at analog video animation, see "ANALOG to DIGITAL?Conversion: A History of Video Animation" by Ed Kramer, published in the Conference Proceedings?of the National Computer Graphics Association, Volume II, 1987 pp. 363-382. You also can visit the?Scanimate Web page, maintained by former Image West engineer David Seig, at http://scanimate.zfx.com

  • Ed Kramer was hired at Image West in January 1981, trained on Scanimate by Roy Weinstock, and became the last fully-trained analog-era Animator to use Scanimate for production work. For two years he and Peter Koczera were the primary animators at Image West, with Peter handling many of the higher-profile network jobs and Ed handling the majority of day-to-day clients. Ed's more well-known animation from this period includes openings for "The Merv Griffin Show," The 1982 Baseball World Series on ...

  • EDK

    Ed Kramer was hired at Image West in January 1981, trained on Scanimate by Roy Weinstock, and became the last fully-trained analog-era Animator to use Scanimate for production work.  For two years he and Peter Koczera were the primary animators at Image West, with Peter handling many of the higher-profile network jobs and Ed handling the majority of day-to-day clients.  Ed's more well-known animation from this period includes openings for "The Merv Griffin Show," The 1982 Baseball World Series on NBC, and the "Space Sucker" video game from an episode of the TV show "Diff'rent Strokes."

  • It would be impossible to name all the analog animation pioneers from the early days of computer graphics. Many of them, however, have remained active in the CG industry for almost 20 years including Rob Bekhurs, Susan Crouse-Kemp, Richard Froman, Dave Holman, Mike Jackson, Art Kellner, Fred Kessler, Sonny King, Jeff Kleiser, Henry Kline II, Peter Koczera, Ed Kramer, Russ Maehl, Gary McKinnon, Mike Saz, and Roy Weinstock. The late Ron Hays was one of the original pioneers of the ...

  • partial list of early users

    It would be impossible to name all the analog animation pioneers from the early days of computer graphics. Many of them, however, have remained active in the CG industry for almost 20 years including Rob Bekhurs, Susan Crouse-Kemp, Richard Froman, Dave Holman, Mike Jackson, Art Kellner, Fred Kessler, Sonny King, Jeff Kleiser, Henry Kline II, Peter Koczera, Ed Kramer, Russ Maehl, Gary McKinnon, Mike Saz, and Roy Weinstock. The late Ron Hays was one of the original pioneers of the aesthetics of video animation, and he is remembered for his elegant direction of effects in the music video for "Sergeant Pepper's."