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"A Computer Animated Hand" (1972)

Discussion in 'Disney / Pixar' started by Rollo, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. Rollo

    Rollo Newbie New Member

    Nov 9, 2013
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    This post is to be the first of a series of "Rollo's Very Excellent Animated Discussions", or, "Rollo's VEAD", as you may call it. If I can, I will post a video of one of our cartoons. There are no limits. You can discuss anime if you please. We now begin with a primative CGI film, produced in 1972.

    This 1972 student film, elaborately digitizing a hand, produced by Ed Catmull, now president of Pixar Animation Studios, was the very first computer-animated film. Ed's left hand was made into a model, and polygons were sketched on the model. The model was THEN digitized, and thus, the film.

    "A Computer Animated Hand" was inducted in the 2011 National Film Registry, along with "Bambi", and "Forrest Gump", by Chief Librarian of Congress James F. Billington, of the Library of Congress.

    Well, gang: Let the discussions begin!

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  2. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

    Nov 3, 2013
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    So this is where it started. Obviously, the framework is using structural dynamics for the hand, a carry-over from architecture and engineering. Bending the fingers is done with collapse mechanics, which are used to study structural failure scenarios. It was difficult then, and even today, to explain to Boolean computers how soft-body mechanics work. People are, structurally, molded Jell-O that can slosh our water around. By machine thinking, we shouldn't exist, much less stand upright.

    However, this structural exercise would ultimately generate Luxo Junior and Tin Toy, which took the entertainment industry by storm.

    Splendid research, Rollo. Good of you to share.
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  3. peterhale

    peterhale Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

    Nov 3, 2013
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    Ah, 1972! I was working in a small animation studio in London, making low-budget commercials. Nobody used computers, and films like this only confirmed our belief that computers were no threat to cel animation!

    The promise of computer animation, however, excited the imagination of film producers, quickly followed by the advertising agencies, ever looking for the newest thing! So by the late 70s the animation industry was busy simulating computer imagery by traditional means (lots of glowing, backlit lines and strobing boxes created under the rostrum camera) for entertainment films and commercials.

    Despite the advances in computer animation during the 80s, and the increased use of office computers, it wasn't until the end of the last decade of the 20th Century that small traditional animation companies finally adopted computerised image assembly (scanning and colouring artwork instead of tracing and painting on cel, and using animation assembly programs instead of shooting onto movie film).

    But a new generation of animators had grown up using computer programs like Flash, and cel animation was pretty much put out to pasture - so those of us who couldn't adapt, retired!
  4. saltyboot

    saltyboot A Moderating Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

    Nov 5, 2013
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    Veeeery interesting and a great find. Thanks for sharing!
  5. TEOL

    TEOL Apprentice Forum Member New Member

    Nov 12, 2013
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    1972 is a very impressive date indeed. Sure beats 1987 - Current to the punch now on the impressive for the year thing.

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