John Whitney, Sr was an American animator, le Business Guide : Audiovisuel – Web – Entertainment 2008/2009 PDF and inventor, widely considered to be one of the fathers of computer animation. From the late 1950s and early ’60s, mainframe digital computers were becoming commonplace within large organisations and universities, and increasingly these would be equipped with graphic plotting and graphics screen devices.
Consequently, a new field of experimentation began to open up. Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, was a leading research contributor in computer graphics, computer animation and electronic music from its beginnings in the early 1960s. Edward Zajac produced one of the first computer generated films at Bell Labs in 1963, titled A Two Gyro Gravity Gradient Attitude Control System, which demonstrated that a satellite could be stabilized to always have a side facing the Earth as it orbited. In 1965, Michael Noll created computer-generated stereographic 3D movies, including a ballet of stick figures moving on a stage. Some movies also showed four-dimensional hyper-objects projected to three dimensions. Ivan Sutherland is considered by many to be the creator of Interactive Computer Graphics, and an internet pioneer. Utah was a major center for computer animation in this period.
Sutherland—both were professors in the Computer Science Department at the University of Utah, and the company was formed to produce new hardware designed to run the systems being developed in the University. In 1968 a group of Soviet physicists and mathematicians with N. Konstantinov as its head created a mathematical model for the motion of a cat. On a BESM-4 computer they devised a programme for solving the ordinary differential equations for this model. In July 1968, the arts journal Studio International published a special issue titled Cybernetic Serendipity – the computer and the arts, which catalogued a comprehensive collection of items and examples of work being done in the field of computer art in organisations all over the world, and shown in exhibitions in London, UK, San Francisco, CA.
The first machine to achieve widespread public attention in the media was Scanimate, an analog computer animation system designed and built by Lee Harrison of the Computer Image Corporation in Denver. The National Film Board of Canada, already a world center for animation art, also began experimentation with computer techniques in 1969. Most well-known of the early pioneers with this was artist Peter Foldes, who completed Metadata in 1971. The Atlas Computer Laboratory near Oxford was for many years a major facility for computer animation in Britain.
The first entertainment cartoon made was The Flexipede, by Tony Pritchett, which was first shown publicly at the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition in 1968. In 1973, Kitching went on to develop a software called Antics, which allowed users to create animation without needing any programming. From around the early 70s, much of the emphasis in computer animation development was towards ever increasing realism in 3D imagery, and on effects designed for use in feature movies. The first feature film to use digital image processing was the 1973 movie Westworld, a science-fiction film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton, in which humanoid robots live amongst the humans. 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. The quality of NYIT’s work attracted the attention of George Lucas, who was interested in developing a CGI special effects facility at his company Lucasfilm.
The framebuffer or framestore is a graphics screen configured with a memory buffer that contains data for a complete screen image. 15,000, with a resolution of 512 by 512 pixels in 8-bit grayscale color, and sold well to graphics researchers without the resources to build their own framebuffer. In 1975, the UK company Quantel, founded in 1973 by Peter Michael, produced the first commercial full-color broadcast framebuffer, the Quantel DFS 3000. However, it was not until the 1980s 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 90s, 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 ».
80, the first film using fractals to generate the graphics was made by Loren Carpenter of Boeing. Titled Vol Libre, it showed a flight over a fractal landscape, and was presented at SIGGRAPH 1980. Bob Holzman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California established JPL’s Computer Graphics Lab in 1977 as a group with technology expertise in visualizing data being returned from NASA missions. On the advice of Ivan Sutherland, Holzman hired a graduate student from Utah named Jim Blinn. CPB TV series, The Mechanical Universe, which consisted of over 500 scenes for 52 half-hour programs describing physics and mathematics concepts for college students.