On “effects” in moving images

See this opening for Vertigo

and then realize this:

However, what if CGI in films went back even further, to 1957 1958? I heard about this possibility through a video presented by John Hess on some film special effects history. He mentioned that a computer was used in creating the opening sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo. I watched it, and was amazed! Yes! These look like computer graphics!

An article in Rhizome describes it, saying that John Whitney programmed these graphics using a computer that was originally designed to aim artillery during WW II. A pendulum (which contained pressurized paint) was placed above a drawing surface that was attached to a platform. The platform was moved by the computer according to mathematical equations as the pendulum swung back and forth across it. This created precise spiral designs. There’s a part of the opening sequence where you can see these spiral designs change shape. These changes were created by altering the formulas for each frame that was drawn by the computer/pendulum combination. In my mind, this is similar to how computers interacted with oscilloscopes in the earliest visual computer displays, though it sounds like the computer could not turn the paint on and off.

Original source: Were the first movie computer graphics in a Hitchcock film?

Interesting links: March 2020

Now abandoned Buran shuttle, on an Energia booster
Now abandoned Buran shuttle, on an Energia booster

Interesting links: February 2020

Twitter graphs of different disinfo campaigns
Twitter graphs of different disinfo campaigns

Interesting links: November 2019

An example of a Tinderbox view

In addition, the structure would likely have been topped with a pyramidion, a capstone made of solid granite and covered in a precious metal like gold. The sheer size of the pyramid must have been enough to blow ancient minds, but seeing it all shiny and topped in gold… well, no wonder they thought their rulers were gods.

  • As I’m in the stage of “looking around at schools”, found this piece on NYC schools relevant.
  • For those who care, something about Yggdrasil
  • Recently re-discovered The Cyborg Manifesto, from which this quote:

Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.

Interesting links: September 2019

Panoramic view from the Venera 13 lander, from Venus, in 1982
Panoramic view from the Venera 13 lander, from Venus, in 1982

Dark Crystal

Here’s how it happened: I was browsing Netflix, got the usual nothing to see here. Oh well, what’s this Dark Crystal thing?

Two minutes in, I get the feeling, “meh, this is too childish, did I accidentally get into the kids’ section?”

But ten minutes in, I realize I’m watching some of the most visually arresting scenes I’ve ever watched — and this isn’t CGI, so someone has put in an absolutely insane level of effort to depict and capture this fantasy world!

Anyway that was episode one. Added the rest to my list.

Interesting links: August 2019

Rubaiyyat illustration by Elihu Vedder (verses 37-39)
Rubaiyyat illustration by Elihu Vedder (verses 37-39)

Interesting links: July 2019

thunderstorm, from space
Thunderstorm, seen from the Space Station

(a very short list, not a lot this month, I was too busy !)

Interesting links: June 2019

Tracing eye-movements across a painting
Tracing eye-movements across a painting

Interesting links: May 2019

Artist's rendition of prehistoric fungi http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/070423.fungus.shtml
Artist’s rendition of prehistoric fungi