(upbeat music) – When I learned After Effects, I learned every button
and how to move everything and make all my key frames really nice. There was always missing
that extra special quality that I couldn’t name, I
didn’t know what is was. (upbeat music) When I saw old graphics from 70’s and 80’s when I grew up, when I remember that stuff and I still see it online today, there’s something about
the quality of that that I’ve been trying
to replicate forever. A lot of what we call
traditional motion graphics idea came from this machine. The idea that you could fly a logo in and promote a brand that way was made on this machine. And trying to emulate that has been making plugins for years. This is where it all came from, this is where it all started. (upbeat music) – [Voiceover] It all started in 1960 in an attic in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania with some glass tubes, color-coded wires, some two-by-fours and the
imagination of Lee Harrison and his associates. – He was at home watching TV
and getting ready to go to bed, and he reached over and he
turned off his television. And as he did that, instantly he saw that
picture shrink real fast and go down to a dot, and he thought, it’s just the deflection
circuits are collapsing. So hence, I could just affect
the deflection circuits and we could make animation,
make things move on the screen. (upbeat music) – Originally, they were just making interesting spirographic patterns and they hire the guy, I think from IBM that was a salesman. – And we’re trying to
figure out how to make money with this thing. And he said, “Well, if
you could move words, “then I think you might
really have something.” – For a while that we
were doing show opens. I get to open the Super Bowl eight and we ended up doing effects for the show called Logan’s Run. There were runners and
the cops would shoot you with a laser gun and you
would glow and collapse. It’s great, and for the
production company, they loved it because it was not a very
expensive effect to do. Things were getting out of hand. I was doing the engineering, I was doing production,
the animation work, and I was a tape operator. And so there were
certainly a lot of things that were beyond my abilities. So, I needed to find an engineer. So, we put up an ad– – I saw the ad.
– They’ve showed up and– I think the deal was, if
you can fix this machine, you’re hired. – I grabbed one of the books and looked at some of the schematics and see if nothing complicated here, I
think I can keep this work. I don’t necessarily know what it does. I wouldn’t know if it’s working right. But these guys knew when
it was working right and they would say, “This
is supposed to do this “and it’s not working right.” “I can fix that.” (upbeat music) – I was at a history of
computer animation panel and they were going
through all the history, 60’s, 70’s and about to go into 80’s and all the computer
animation that I knew. And somebody stood up
at the back and said, “You forgot about something. “You forgot about Scanimate.” And I leaned forward in my chair and when he played the demo reel, that’s when I knew, this is what I’ve been
trying to find for years. (upbeat music) You can get this kind of animation on film was such a expensive and long process. The idea that a computer
animation can be real time in the 70’s and early 80’s is crazy. We’re just now getting to the point where we can start to
do real time three D, and you guys have had it all along. That’s why I’m here, I
wanted to come see this because you guys have the
magic of what I’ve been chasing this entire time. (upbeat music) – The way it’s working is
the Scanimate’s ability to break the raster into segments. – [Nick] So the client gives your artwork with different words and then you can break
each word up separately and animate words that way. – Yes, yes. The monochromatic camera
that’s looking at that raster then goes into a
colorizer and gets colored and keyed and brought
back out in the real world for a television production facility. I think originally they
were shooting on film but as soon as they made the
jump to shooting on video, then they realized I think that they had a very powerful theme. – All the blooming that you’re getting from the CRT that is basically
an artifact to the CRT is really what I think makes
this machine have its own look. When I started to learn
about the Scanimate, when I saw that it was an analog machine filmed by a real camera, a lot of it started to make sense to me which is all the blooming
and all the light artifacts weren’t digital, they weren’t processed, they were real light artifacts because it’s coming off
the CRT into another camera and all of these stuff together, it’s real life. You have an element of real life in here that even today’s motion
graphics doesn’t have. (upbeat music) – The alternative was cel animation which took weeks and weeks
to produce and crank out. If you didn’t like it, you had to go back and it’s another two and a half weeks. And with Scanimate, you could see it, you could say, make a little
faster, make a little slower. And as soon as you liked it, you lay it down and you’d be done. (upbeat music) To make things move, we
would vary the voltage that’s going it the deflection circuitry. So, if I change the horizontal offset which is labeled position, it moves everything left and right and the other one would be up down. If you changed the gain of them both, it ends up being depth. – [Nick] Like a scale. – All the elements are very simple, but it’s how they get pads together and how the knobs get tweaked
to get the certain effects that this is the magic of it. Okay, goes from A to B. Well, can’t you make it
slow down a little bit when it lands? ‘Cause in real world, things have mass, and they don’t just bang bang, you know. So, the engineers were like, “Yeah, we can put in a little
sign instead of a triangle “and whatever it is.” All those little things
that evolved over time, they have now become just like, “Oh, yeah. “That’s just the way it
works, it’s automatic.” – Every key framer has it is and is out and those are all standard things now and for us they were, we actually made those alternatives, now they’re everywhere. (slow instrumental music) – [Nick] When I first
looked at all the stuff, I didn’t understand how. Did they have 10 people all move the knobs at the same time? And then, and then– – Originally. That was how it started. – I was like, “How are
they animating all these?” If it’s real time and it’s analog and there’s no way to
control all these knobs. – Well, I think that’s the same thing where the operators would
say, “I needed to do this.” And so, the machine is really an evolution of some brilliant engineers
and its very creative operators that were able to
communicate with each other ’cause nothing would happen if you couldn’t communicate those. (upbeat music) They call it initial
position and final position. Final is the ending position and when you go to the initial position, all the parameters are multiplied off. You can build any circuit that you want and the voltage package
that you’re building is ultimately going to make
something move on the screen. (upbeat music) You know if you came back tomorrow and said, “Need that.” I could not because they all say, “I don’t know, “I know have no idea what
the frequencies are.” – [Nick] It’s like what I am. – It’s complicated stuff, you know. There’s no undo button. If I pull out the patches, and then the client goes, “Yeah, you know, that was gonna be okay, “let’s just go with what we had.” – You would make something gorgeous and they would love it
and walk out with it, and the guy would come in the next morning and it’s like, “I showed it to my boss “and we just need to make
this one little thing.” You can start over, you’ll get something completely different but it’s not gonna be at
all, well, you walked out– (upbeat music) – The Scanimate and all the
designers and all the team built the first plugins. I mean if you look at the
cords and everything here, you might have built the first plugins. – But it’s literally plugging in. – Yeah, right. Like you guys built the formulas that have turned into plugins that have turned into other formulas that have turned into things
that motion graphic artists have tried to emulate for years. The stars-filled stuff
was one of those things where it started to click with me that this was analog stuff. That this was star filters
and all these things. I mean, this is classic. When I was watching
cartoons in the early 80’s and all the commercials
and stuff, this was it. (upbeat music) – It was all about the end-product. It didn’t matter how you got there and we all walked around
with a little screwdriver. And if you wanted to change
the color of the background but it was not a controllable thing, you could change the face of it so that the hue of it would swing around. And you would literally
be misaligning equipment to create an effect. The engineers, they would just go crazy. You can’t do crap like that. This is a delicate piece
of electronic equipment. Well no, it isn’t. – That was my part of the whole thing because my job was more to
keep the machine working. Okay, is the machine broken? Or is it just hooked up weird? Or has it been misadjusted
to get a certain effect? – It was a great thing because
he had the right attitude which is, “Alright, I’ll
just align this machine “and it’s perfect but if
you need to screw it up for an effect–” – Go for it
– Knock yourself out. You know, we’ll just put it right back. – Alright, so I have an idea. I’m at Scanimate, I have to see if you can help me animate
my logo Scanimate style so I can have an authentic
Scanimate animation. – Alright, so what I’m
gonna do is pull out the patches that we have. – Okay. – We’re gonna go back to VGA mode so we can your artwork in there. You gave me this artwork. – [Nick] Yup. – As however you gave it us. Is there an easy way for you
to feed it to me 90 degrees? – You rotate before you give it to me. – Yeah, I think so. Keep it four-by-three and just flip it. Like that? – Yes but go 180 now. – [Dave] There you go.
– [Nick] Like that? – [Dave] Perfect. – [Roy] And we want just the word, right? – Yup. Oh, I see that they’re
just clipping on both sides to open it up. Oh my gosh, that– Why am i so excited about an outline? It looks great. It just looks all glowing and nice and– Look at that. Just the quality of that image like it’s just a little bit off, it’s not ever perfect. It’s so great. It’s those things that analog
technology does naturally that digital technology pulled away. And in some cases, digital
technology made a cleaner and more replicatable and you could save things in hi-res. All these nice things came
with digital technology but it’s the imperfections
and the natural things that analog equipment
just gives you for free that we lost in the transition to digital. (upbeat music) – Animations are kind of a personal thing. And it’s a creative thing. Early on, I probably
can’t think about or what but a lot of it has gotten a lot easier. The easier it gets though, the farther away you get from
what you really going on. I think that it’s one of
the keys to my success was I always tried to understand what is really going on here. (upbeat music) We still don’t completely
understand why they’re so good but we see it and we feel it. I sometimes wonder why I bothered trying to keep this thing alive but the fact that it’s
here today, it works, all the knobs still work. You can do things with it, it still makes all the
stuff it used to make. To me, that’s the magic of it and that’s what we’re trying to keep alive as long as possible.

Scanimate: The Origins of Computer Motion Graphics | Lynda.com from LinkedIn
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48 thoughts on “Scanimate: The Origins of Computer Motion Graphics | Lynda.com from LinkedIn

  • November 30, 2016 at 10:05 pm
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    Awesome flashback guys!

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  • December 1, 2016 at 1:07 am
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    Absolute geniuses. Sticking the logo into the machine and it was 300% more amazing! Thanks for the vid!

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  • December 1, 2016 at 4:39 am
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    That and some ADO (Ampex digital optics) or similar and voilá.

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  • December 24, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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    This is amazing! I can't believe I've never heard of this! This is like when I discovered Robert Moog or Don Buchla!

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  • March 7, 2017 at 4:53 pm
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    That machine HAS to be preserved and passed down to future generations who want to replicate it.

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  • April 8, 2017 at 3:06 pm
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    Someone should create a motion graphics software inspired by this kind of workflow.

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  • April 8, 2017 at 8:25 pm
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    He's response was the same when I found about these analog live generated motion graphics. I just felt that all digital stuffs were hokes of the originals. But who am I to judge.

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  • June 5, 2017 at 7:57 pm
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    I'm obsessed with this era of motion graphics. When most people see this, they think it's dated and cheesy. I see it as warm and human, even though it's created by a machine. As a video editor, I get all my inspiration from the Image West demo reel, and the Cars music video. I'm trying to figure out how to master these type of effects with nu Skool editors. sometimes I create pics as frames, and ad a glow afterwards. since you love this as much as I do, what are some good plugins?

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  • August 7, 2017 at 10:00 pm
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    Nick, you gave me a great idea at 6:24. I, like you, am obsessed with these graphics, and I'm trying to achieve this look digital editors. But you hit the nail on the head at about 6:24. I made a video with this grid like scanamate style, then what I did was use my cell phone camera (can not wait until I can get a professional one) and shot the video, as it played on the computer. Even with the low quality cell phone camera, it had that glowy look to it. Thanks for the idea.

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  • August 22, 2017 at 8:20 am
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    I had just been watching the Computer Image Corporation showreel from 1975 and then this showed up, imagine my surprise! Absolutely wonderful to watch and I'm in awe of this hardware and its beautiful image creating capabilities.

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  • September 8, 2017 at 11:55 pm
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    I've always been an avid lover of that type of graphic motion. I grew up with it and have been trying to find the source of it for the longest time. I have found 5 things here in youtube that I have questioned from the longest time since I was a boy.

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  • September 27, 2017 at 12:13 am
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    I love the fact " once we change the patch cords we can’t duplicate that tomorrow ". I agree it is beautiful

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  • September 27, 2017 at 4:10 am
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    This is so beyond awesome. I remember when I was about 12, and I saw the neighbor's dad's oscilloscope in the basement, and wanted to play with it… I wanted one. I still want one. I also remember liking the way the image shrunk when you turned off the TV. That and the freaky ghost image that stayed on the screen afterwards from the tube. I used to turn the TV off and on just to see that. Until I got yelled at.

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  • October 1, 2017 at 7:08 am
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    I think this was back when Machines worked for Humans!

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  • October 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm
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    Could anyone tell me the name of the soundtrack at 3:51? 🙂

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  • October 8, 2017 at 7:02 pm
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    (upbeat music)

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  • October 23, 2017 at 11:58 am
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    Some of these animations are just simply not possible with digital video editors. Analogue just works! What you see is what you get.

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  • October 24, 2017 at 4:51 am
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    WOW! This brings me much needed closure .

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  • January 13, 2018 at 3:48 am
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    This is awesome

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  • January 15, 2018 at 4:16 am
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    Spin the logo around? Easy peasy! Just click and drag here and….. NOPE…. not on Scanimate… you gotta WORK to make that sh!t spin!

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  • January 27, 2018 at 7:04 pm
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    2:19 J.R. "Bob" Dobbs reference!

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  • February 24, 2018 at 3:39 pm
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    Wow, how awesome!!! I know how you feel, bro. There's something about the 80's… it's called NOSTALGIA!!! Great video, thanks man!!

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  • March 8, 2018 at 11:02 am
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    This is a treasure

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  • March 11, 2018 at 11:20 pm
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    Fascinating.

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  • March 31, 2018 at 3:06 pm
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    You have to love the aluminum foil technique at 6:44.

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  • July 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm
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    Is Dolphin Productions using with computer?

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  • August 1, 2018 at 2:00 am
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    Someone NEEDS to learn this machine from the masters – to keep this knowledge alive.

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  • August 8, 2018 at 9:11 pm
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    For those interested in seeing more, I recommend checking out the work of Ken Knowlton, Stan VanDerBeek and Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs. Their work predates Scanimate by a few years and is some of the earliest examples of computer-generated animation.

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  • September 2, 2018 at 3:53 am
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    I love the DuMont logo on the monitor. That has to be a joke, right? I actually bought a DuMont color tv at the lakeside rummage sale in 1993 and it was ancient at that time, and so heavy that my 14 year old self couldn't carry it to the car alone.

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  • October 6, 2018 at 5:39 pm
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    Who the fuck would dislike this? My like has brought this to 666 likes!

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  • November 26, 2018 at 3:31 am
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    The video synthesizer I used was the Rutt-Etra. It was an infinitely simpler and primitive analog video synthesizer. During 1977-78, I used it at the Ontario College of Art to produce video art. I still have my own setup diagrams. I used it with audio oscillators, video cameras, VTRs, video and audio mixers, etc. I also used a fax machine to manipulate images.

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  • December 15, 2018 at 7:20 am
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    How did they scan the logo into the machine?

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  • January 17, 2019 at 4:33 am
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    As someone who is inspired by these retro designs and effects and hoping to one day apply it to future work, it brings me a great deal of joy to finally know the actual term for these types of effect that were so Synonymous with late 70s early 80s commercials and Television specials as well as to also know the people behind it who made it part of our culture. Thank you Roy and Dave for preserving this special piece of our history and Thank you LinkedIn for such an excellent video on the wonders of Scanimate!

    Reply
  • January 17, 2019 at 6:55 am
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    Given the love for the hand-on aspect of controlling the equipment, I suppose I'll get shot for suggesting this, but what would be neat to me would be to create versions of this with motor-driven rotary and slide pots, switchbars, etc., VCOs and ADCs to record and playback all the manual figgiting around. Do an image generation segment, you have it all recorded and repeatable on demand. If the setting recording is itself analog, then you have something like a sampler. If it's digitized then it's even alterable in a preplanned way. Then the recording/playback machine becomes as complicated as the image generator…..oh well.

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  • February 6, 2019 at 7:34 am
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    This essentially used video signals as a canvas to make art on.

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  • February 14, 2019 at 6:55 pm
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    Justice – DVNO video did a nice job emulating this.

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  • February 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm
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    Did you see a clip of the TBN Praise the Lord intro that was done by Image West back in the 80s?

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  • February 27, 2019 at 7:00 am
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    Why are you holding your phone the wrong way at 15:50?

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  • April 3, 2019 at 10:41 am
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    Just mind blowing.

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  • July 26, 2019 at 11:41 pm
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    Does anybody know of a software that you can use to make this 80s animation “look” ?

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  • August 23, 2019 at 2:08 am
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    Know what would be awesome? Stranger Things title using Scanimate!

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  • August 24, 2019 at 8:52 pm
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    "It's where it all started"…? Absolutly not ! The firsts company logo animations were all basic frame by frame animation ! And these animations were absolutly gorgeous, scanimate was just a cheap way to do that. Scanimate was about the price, not the quality, most of these animations are just awful compared to basic frame by frame…

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  • August 24, 2019 at 9:00 pm
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    They are not telling him the origin of that kind of analog video effects…? Wich is the video larsen…

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  • September 2, 2019 at 2:19 pm
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    Yeah when I was in college I the wizard of misaligning the equipment. The professors dreaded the day they'd come in and find the studio messed up.Only a few times like when I wired the cable TV signal into the switcher.
    for instance I only recently realized I was doing scannimate with camera rigs and key layering..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1A8iFOq2eNU
    one variation of the 8-camera rig
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJPBaEgz5zg

    hire me somebody

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  • September 6, 2019 at 4:00 pm
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    how the graphics gets to film ? I mean 70 mm or 35 mm film reel ?

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  • September 21, 2019 at 5:31 pm
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    Its amazing these guys played this machine like an instrument.

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  • October 7, 2019 at 2:14 am
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    11:00 IS WHERE JONTRON GOT HIS INTRO

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  • October 20, 2019 at 7:56 pm
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    7:50 acceleration, deceleration and anticipation in animation go way before this awesome guys

    Reply

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