The History Of Animation

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The History Of Animation

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History Of Animation Documentary

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Only a century before 3D animation schools rose up to help people study the craft, there were pioneers out there trying to figure out how to get it started. What was the first ever animation? That is a trickier question than it might appear, because it depends entirely on what is classified as an animation. Given that animation, at its heart, is simply the act of creating the illusion of movement through still images, you could argue that the craft began hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The Victorians also figured out how to create moving stills to trick the eyes into thinking the image was animated:. Stop motion? Animations that only featured a few frames? Released in to a South American theatre audience, the minute long movie — running at an impressive 14 frames per second — also holds the distinction of being the first commercially profitable animated movie ever made. According to those who saw it, the political satire was exceedingly good. A few more experimental animation techniques were developed over the next decade including methods like rotoscoping , which produced some hit-and-miss results. It was the opening of a small studio in Los Angeles , however, that changed the game forever.

The only thing left to see is how the students of animation school today are going to revolutionize the world of animation tomorrow. The Atlas Computer Laboratory near Oxford was for many years a major facility for computer animation in Britain. In , Kitching went on to develop a software called "Antics", which allowed users to create animation without needing any programming. Any number of drawings or cels could be animated at once by "choreographing" them in limitless ways using various types of "movements". The first feature film to use digital image processing was the movie Westworld , a science-fiction film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton , in which humanoid robots live amongst the humans.

The cinegraphic block portraiture was accomplished using the Technicolor Three-strip Process to color-separate each frame of the source images, then scanning them to convert into rectangular blocks according to its tone values, and finally outputting the result back to film. The process was covered in the American Cinematographer article "Behind the scenes of Westworld". This annual conference soon became the dominant venue for presenting innovations in the field.

The first use of 3D wireframe imagery in mainstream cinema was in the sequel to Westworld , Futureworld , directed by Richard T. This featured a computer-generated hand and face created by then University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke which had initially appeared in their experimental short A Computer Animated Hand. The Oscar -winning short animated film Great , about the life of the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel , contains a brief sequence of a rotating wireframe model of Brunel's final project, the iron steam ship SS Great Eastern. The third movie to use this technology was Star Wars , written and directed by George Lucas , with wireframe imagery in the scenes with the Death Star plans, the targeting computers in the X-wing fighters, and the Millennium Falcon spacecraft.

The Walt Disney film The Black Hole , directed by Gary Nelson used wireframe rendering to depict the titular black hole, using equipment from Disney's engineers. In the same year, the science-fiction horror film Alien , directed by Ridley Scott , also used wireframe model graphics, in this case to render the navigation monitors in the spaceship. Although Lawrence Livermore Labs in California is mainly known as a centre for high-level research in science, it continued producing significant advances in computer animation throughout this period. Notably, Nelson Max, who joined the Lab in , and whose film Turning a sphere inside out is regarded as one of the classic early films in the medium International Film Bureau, Chicago, His research interests focused on realism in nature images, molecular graphics, computer animation, and 3D scientific visualization.

He later served as computer graphics director for the Fujitsu pavilions at Expo 85 and 90 in Japan. He put together the most sophisticated studio of the time, with state of the art computers, film and graphic equipment, and hired top technology experts and artists to run it — Ed Catmull , Malcolm Blanchard, Fred Parke and others all from Utah, plus others from around the country including Ralph Guggenheim , Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Emshwiller. During the late s, the staff made numerous innovative contributions to image rendering techniques, and produced many influential software, including the animation program Tween , the paint program Paint , and the animation program SoftCel.

In , he recruited the top talent from NYIT, including Catmull, Smith and Guggenheim to start his division, which later spun off as Pixar , founded in with funding by Apple Inc. The framebuffer or framestore is a graphics screen configured with a memory buffer that contains data for a complete screen image. Typically, it is a rectangular array raster of pixels , and the number of pixels in the width and the height is its "resolution". Before the framebuffer, graphics displays were all vector-based , tracing straight lines from one co-ordinate to another.

In , the Manchester Baby computer used a Williams tube , where the 1-bit display was also the memory. An early perhaps first known example of a framebuffer was designed in by A. Michael Noll at Bell Labs , [54] This early system had just 2-bits, giving it 4 levels of gray scale. A later design had color, using more bits. The development of MOS memory metal—oxide—semiconductor memory integrated-circuit chips, particularly high-density DRAM dynamic random-access memory chips with at least 1 kb memory, made it practical to create a digital memory system with framebuffers capable of holding a standard definition SD video image.

The SuperPaint software contained all the essential elements of later paint packages, allowing the user to paint and modify pixels, using a palette of tools and effects, and thereby making it the first complete computer hardware and software solution for painting and editing images. Shoup also experimented with modifying the output signal using color tables, to allow the system to produce a wider variety of colors than the limited 8-bit range it contained. This scheme would later become commonplace in computer framebuffers. The SuperPaint framebuffer could also be used to capture input images from video. Many of the "firsts" that happened at NYIT were based on the development of this first raster graphics system. It was first used in TV coverage of the Montreal Olympics to generate a picture-in-picture inset of the Olympic flaming torch while the rest of the picture featured the runner entering the stadium.

Framebuffer technology provided the cornerstone for the future development of digital television products. By the late s, it became possible for personal computers such as the Apple II to contain low-color framebuffers. However, it was not until the s that a real revolution in the field was seen, and framebuffers capable of holding a standard video image were incorporated into standalone workstations. By the s, framebuffers eventually became the standard for all personal computers.

At this time, a major step forward to the goal of increased realism in 3D animation came with the development of " fractals ". The term was coined in by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot , who used it to extend the theoretical concept of fractional dimensions to geometric patterns in nature, and published in English translation of his book Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension in In —80, the first film using fractals to generate the graphics was made by Loren Carpenter of Boeing.

He produced a series of widely seen "fly-by" simulations, including the Voyager , Pioneer and Galileo spacecraft fly-bys of Jupiter, Saturn and their moons. Blinn developed many influential new modelling techniques, and wrote papers on them for the IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers , in their journal Computer Graphics and Applications. Some of these included environment mapping, improved highlight modelling, "blobby" modelling, simulation of wrinkled surfaces, and simulation of butts and dusty surfaces.

This he followed with production of another series devoted to mathematical concepts, called Project Mathematics! Motion control photography is a technique that uses a computer to record or specify the exact motion of a film camera during a shot, so that the motion can be precisely duplicated again, or alternatively on another computer, and combined with the movement of other sources, such as CGI elements.

ILM created a digitally controlled camera known as the Dykstraflex , which performed complex and repeatable motions around stationary spaceship models, enabling separately filmed elements spaceships, backgrounds, etc. However, neither of these was actually computer-based—Dykstraflex was essentially a custom-built hard-wired collection of knobs and switches. His idea, called the Geometry Engine , was to create a series of components in a VLSI processor that would accomplish the main operations required in image synthesis—the matrix transforms, clipping, and the scaling operations that provided the transformation to view space.

Clark attempted to shop his design around to computer companies, and finding no takers, he and colleagues at Stanford University , California, started their own company, Silicon Graphics. Its initial market was 3D graphics display terminals, but SGI's products, strategies and market positions evolved significantly over time, and for many years were a favoured choice for CGI companies in film, TV, and other fields. In , Quantel released the " Paintbox ", the first broadcast-quality turnkey system designed for creation and composition of television video and graphics.

Its design emphasized the studio workflow efficiency required for live news production. Essentially, it was a framebuffer packaged with innovative user software, and it rapidly found applications in news, weather, station promos, commercials, and the like. Although it was essentially a design tool for still images, it was also sometimes used for frame-by-frame animations. Following its initial launch, it revolutionised the production of television graphics, and some Paintboxes are still in use today due to their image quality, and versatility.

This was based on Quantel's own hardware, plus a Hewlett-Packard computer for custom program effects. It was capable of warping a live video stream by texture mapping it onto an arbitrary three-dimensional shape, around which the viewer could freely rotate or zoom in real-time. It could also interpolate, or morph, between two different shapes. It was considered the first real-time 3D video effects processor, and the progenitor of subsequent DVE Digital video effect machines. In , Quantel went on to produce "Harry", the first all-digital non-linear editing and effects compositing system.

According to the Information Processing Society of Japan: "The core of 3D image rendering is calculating the luminance of each pixel making up a rendered surface from the given viewpoint, light source , and object position. The LINKS-1 system was developed to realize an image rendering methodology in which each pixel could be parallel processed independently using ray tracing. By developing a new software methodology specifically for high-speed image rendering, LINKS-1 was able to rapidly render highly realistic images.

The video was presented at the Fujitsu pavilion at the International Exposition in Tsukuba. In the '80s, University of Montreal was at the front run of Computer Animation with three successful short 3D animated films with 3D characters. In , Pierre Lachapelle, Philippe Bergeron, Pierre Robidoux and Daniel Langlois directed Tony de Peltrie , which shows the first animated human character to express emotion through facial expressions and body movements, which touched the feelings of the audience. In , the Engineering Institute of Canada celebrated its th anniversary.

The short movie, called Rendez-vous in Montreal [85] was shown in numerous festivals and TV channels all over the world. The Sun Microsystems company was founded in by Andy Bechtolsheim with other fellow graduate students at Stanford University. It was designed around the Motorola processor with the Unix operating system and virtual memory, and, like SGI, had an embedded frame buffer. Staff at the Centre d'animatique included Daniel Langlois , who left in to form Softimage.

Also in , the first complete turnkey system designed specifically for creating broadcast-standard animation was produced by the Japanese company Nippon Univac Kaisha "NUK", later merged with Burroughs , and incorporated the Antics 2-D computer animation software developed by Alan Kitching from his earlier versions. This framebuffer also showed realtime instant replays of animated vector sequences "line test" , though finished full-color recording would take many seconds per frame.

Later in the '80s, Kitching developed versions of Antics for SGI and Apple Mac platforms, and these achieved a wider global distribution. The film is celebrated as a milestone in the industry, though less than twenty minutes of this animation were actually used—mainly the scenes that show digital "terrain", or include vehicles such as Light Cycles , tanks and ships. Each worked on a separate aspect of the movie, without any particular collaboration. This was a great step forward compared with other films of the day, such as Return of the Jedi , which still used conventional physical models.

A total of 27 minutes of finished CGI footage was produced—considered an enormous quantity at the time. The company estimated that using computer animation required only half the time, and one half to one third the cost of traditional special effects. The terms inbetweening and morphing are often used interchangeably, and signify the creating of a sequence of images where one image transforms gradually into another image smoothly by small steps. Graphically, an early example would be Charles Philipon 's famous caricature of French King Louis Philippe turning into a pear metamorphosis. Lutz's book Animated Cartoons. Inbetweening with solid-filled colors appeared in the early '70s, e. The term "morphing" did not become current until the late '80s, when it specifically applied to computer inbetweening with photographic images—for example, to make one face transform smoothly into another.

The technique uses grids or "meshes" overlaid on the images, to delineate the shape of key features eyes, nose, mouth, etc. Morphing then inbetweens one mesh to the next, and uses the resulting mesh to distort the image and simultaneously dissolve one to another, thereby preserving a coherent internal structure throughout. Thus, several different digital techniques come together in morphing.

Texture mapping , which applies a photographic image to a 3D surface in another image, was first defined by Jim Blinn and Martin Newell in A paper by Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith on geometric transformations, introduced a mesh-warping algorithm. The first cinema movie to use morphing was Ron Howard 's fantasy film Willow , where the main character, Willow, uses a magic wand to transform animal to animal to animal and finally, to a sorceress. With 3D CGI , the inbetweening of photo-realistic computer models can also produce results similar to morphing, though technically, it is an entirely different process but is nevertheless often also referred to as "morphing".

An early example is Nelson Max's film Turning a sphere inside out. The movie includes a dream sequence where the crew travel back in time, and images of their faces transform into one another. To create it, ILM employed a new 3D scanning technology developed by Cyberware to digitize the cast members' heads, and used the resulting data for the computer models. Because each head model had the same number of key points, transforming one character into another was a relatively simple inbetweening. In James Cameron 's underwater action movie The Abyss was released. This was the first cinema movie to include photo-realistic CGI integrated seamlessly into live-action scenes. A five-minute sequence featuring an animated tentacle or "pseudopod" was created by ILM, who designed a program to produce surface waves of differing sizes and kinetic properties for the pseudopod, including reflection, refraction and a morphing sequence.

Although short, this successful blend of CGI and live action is widely considered a milestone in setting the direction for further future development in the field. The Great Mouse Detective was the first Disney film to extensively use computer animation, a fact that Disney used to promote the film during marketing. This was a custom collection of software, scanners and networked workstations developed by The Walt Disney Company in collaboration with Pixar. Its purpose was to computerize the ink-and-paint and post-production processes of traditionally animated films, to allow more efficient and sophisticated post-production by making the practice of hand-painting cels obsolete.

The animators' drawings and background paintings are scanned into the computer, and animation drawings are inked and painted by digital artists. The drawings and backgrounds are then combined, using software that allows for camera movements, multiplane effects, and other techniques—including compositing with 3D image material. The decade saw some of the first computer animated television series. The s began with much of CGI technology now sufficiently developed to allow a major expansion into film and TV production.

The technique was used to animate the two "Terminator" robots. The "T" robot was given a "mimetic poly-alloy" liquid metal structure, which enabled this shapeshifting character to morph into almost anything it touched. The system also allowed easier combination of hand-drawn art with 3D CGI material, notably in the "waltz sequence", where Belle and Beast dance through a computer-generated ballroom as the camera " dollies " around them in simulated 3D space. Another significant step came in , with Steven Spielberg 's Jurassic Park , [] where 3D CGI dinosaurs were integrated with life-sized animatronic counterparts.

Also watching was George Lucas who remarked "a major gap had been crossed, and things were never going to be the same. Warner Bros ' The Iron Giant was the first traditionally-animated feature to have a major character, the title character, to be fully computer-generated. Flocking is the behavior exhibited when a group of birds or other animals move together in a flock. A mathematical model of flocking behavior was first simulated on a computer in by Craig Reynolds , and soon found its use in animation.

Jurassic Park notably featured flocking, and brought it to widespread attention by mentioning it in the actual script [ citation needed ]. With improving hardware, lower costs, and an ever-increasing range of software tools, CGI techniques were soon rapidly taken up in both film and television production. In , J. Michael Straczynski 's Babylon 5 became the first major television series to use CGI as the primary method for their visual effects rather than using hand-built models , followed later the same year by Rockne S.

In , there came the first fully computer-animation feature film, Disney - Pixar 's Toy Story , which was a huge commercial success. Then, after some long negotiations between Disney and Pixar, a partnership deal was agreed in with the aim of producing a full feature movie, and Toy Story was the result. The following years saw a greatly increased uptake of digital animation techniques, with many new studios going into production, and existing companies making a transition from traditional techniques to CGI.

According to Hutch Parker, President of Production at 20th Century Fox , as of [update] , "50 percent of feature films have significant effects. They're a character in the movie. Motion capture , or "Mocap" , records the movement of external objects or people, and has applications for medicine, sports, robotics, and the military, as well as for animation in film, TV and games. The earliest example would be in , with the pioneering photographic work of Eadweard Muybridge on human and animal locomotion, which is still a source for animators today. Computer-based motion capture started as a photogrammetric analysis tool in biomechanics research in the s and s.

Many different types of markers can be used—lights, reflective markers, LEDs, infra-red, inertial, mechanical, or wireless RF—and may be worn as a form of suit, or attached direct to a performer's body. Some systems include details of face and fingers to capture subtle expressions, and such is often referred to as " performance capture ". The computer records the data from the markers, and uses it to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation, and in some cases this can include camera movement as well.

In the s, these techniques became widely used for visual effects. Video games also began to use motion capture to animate in-game characters. As early as , an early form of motion capture was used to animate the 2D main character of the Martech video game Vixen , which was performed by model Corinne Russell. Another breakthrough where a cinema film used motion capture was creating hundreds of digital characters for the film Titanic in Match moving also known as motion tracking or camera tracking , although related to motion capture, is a completely different technique. Instead of using special cameras and sensors to record the motion of subjects, match moving works with pre-existing live-action footage, and uses computer software alone to track specific points in the scene through multiple frames, and thereby allow the insertion of CGI elements into the shot with correct position, scale, orientation, and motion relative to the existing material.

The terms are used loosely to describe several different methods of extracting subject or camera motion information from a motion picture. The technique can be 2D or 3D, and can also include matching for camera movements. The earliest commercial software examples being 3D-Equalizer from Science. Visions [] and rastrack from Hammerhead Productions, [] both starting mids.

The first step is identifying suitable features that the software tracking algorithm can lock onto and follow. Typically, features are chosen because they are bright or dark spots, edges or corners, or a facial feature—depending on the particular tracking algorithm being used. When a feature is tracked it becomes a series of 2D coordinates that represent the position of the feature across the series of frames. Such tracks can be used immediately for 2D motion tracking, or then be used to calculate 3D information. In 3D tracking, a process known as "calibration" derives the motion of the camera from the inverse-projection of the 2D paths, and from this a "reconstruction" process is used to recreate the photographed subject from the tracked data, and also any camera movement.

This then allows an identical virtual camera to be moved in a 3D animation program, so that new animated elements can be composited back into the original live-action shot in perfectly matched perspective. In the s, the technology progressed to the point that it became possible to include virtual stunt doubles. Camera tracking software was refined to allow increasingly complex visual effects developments that were previously impossible. Computer-generated extras also became used extensively in crowd scenes with advanced flocking and crowd simulation software. Being mainly software-based, match moving has become increasingly affordable as computers become cheaper and more powerful.

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