Introducing a new Visual Language

But the most satisfactory advance from the visual point of view is the system developed by COMPUTER CREATIONS in South Bend, Indiana, USA. This digital system which has been devised by Thomas Klimek, formerly of NASA, cleverly overcomes the major obstacles which bridge the gap between traditional animation and the blessings of the computerised animation technology with all its fast and practically instant image creation. He combined several computer segments to create a digital video recorder which is a workhorse under the total control of the creative artist. Thus the visual concept of the artist dominates the situation which can expand in all directions according to the wishes and inspiration of the creator. The tonal rendering of artwork is unlimited, the timing can be compressed or extended, and movements can contain an effect of three-dimensions. Abstract trans¬formations can be processed and expanded. The overall value from a creative viewpoint is that it is not much different from normal painting or even from normal animation techniques;
lust quicker, providing greater flexibility and with it artistic freedom. Once the key drawings are provided, all the labour consuming task of inbetweening is done by the video machine as well as the colouring of the objects. It takes the drudgery out of normal animated film production in order to concentrate on the essential visual thinking.

A sequence which used to take a month to produce with twenty people, can now be recorded in twelve hours by one artist.

A specific example of the approach is the film DILEMMA – a wholly computerised film through which I have tried to combine all the various elements, working with different computer systems during the last ten years.

I am satisfied that this system, specially built for animation, combining the electronic intelligence of micro-computers with an abstract colour stimulator, is the simplest approach to achieve the maximum visual effect in the shortest possible time. In the case of this particular experiment DILEMMA, Janos Kass only required to draw 150 black and white drawings for a ten minute film, which was translated into computer graphics by Eric Brown a young talented graphic designer trained exclusively to work with the computer. Consequently one director, one graphic designer, one brilliant engineer, one enthusiastic computer designer, can produce work in a few months which would have taken virtually years to do.

But the most important aspect of such an experiment is the beginning of a new era of closer co-operation and better understanding between the arts and science and the possibilities of a new and richer visual language. I am convinced that we are on the threshold of an exciting new era and are moving towards the most significant development in establishing a new art form; the art of the future.

Dilemma. John Halas (1982)

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Printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 7 (Winter 1983)