Cine v Video, plus Computer Animation

The new animation

There is a new way of producing movies that is still very much in its infancy. When it grows up, our page heading may be Film v Micro Chip!

Computer animation is the new experience for film-makers. Disney are in at the beginnings with their film 'Tron'. I have only seen excerpts of this film, but they were like no other animated film from that studio.

Many advertisements are produced with computer animation, there is one that is shown a lot for a chain of garages. An Australian advertisement was recently shown on 'News at Ten' advertising the one-day cricket matches between England and Australia, this also was made with the aid of a computer.

A recent episode of 'Tomorrow's World' highlighted some of the best computer animation. There was one extract from a feature film which is still in production that showed a wierd alien landscape with all sorts of peculiar creatures wandering about. The strange thing about this extract was that it looked almost real. There was also film shown of the experiments that have taken place, ranging from bouncing balls to a juggler. With the juggler, the 'camera' viewpoint changed as if we were floating all around, filming him from above, in front, then sideways, then behind, then zooming in on a close up of the juggled objects – all in one shot!! Can you imagine the problems trying to draw that?
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It is possible to experiment with computer animation at home (in a small way). I recently purchased one of the Home Computers that are flooding into the shops. My machine, the ZX81, is a very basic model which is only capable of producing black and white images on a TV screen. However, basic as it is, it is possible to reproduce recognisable images with a little time and patience.
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The above picture takes a long time to type in, but once stored on cassette tape, it can be called back at any time. A form of animation can be obtained by altering the position of some, or all of the squares, adding some, removing some, etc.

Space invader games are possible (these are really basic forms of computer animation) as are games such as 'Monster Maze' in which you explore a 3-dimensional maze containing a Dinosaur. If you wake it up, it comes hurtling towards you down the passages.
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As with drawn animation, anything is possible with computer animation, IF YOU HAVE THE TIME.

One time-saver with a computer that produces colour images is that the colour is added by typing in an instruction, The computer does the rest. If you don't like it, you just change the instruction.

Perhaps in the near future I will have a very different film to enter in the society competition!

David Ransom, January 1983