Scanimate is the name for an analog computer animation (video synthesizer) system developed from the late 1960s to the 1980s by Computer Image Corporation of Denver, Colorado. It is a form of analogue video synthesizer. The 8 Scanimate systems were used to produce much of the video-based animation seen on television between most of the 1970s and early 1980s. Given the primitive working conditions of that era, the images are surprisingly sophisticated and colorful, and created some very memorable graphics for their time. By the mid-1980s, it was superseded by digital computer animation.
Scanimate is an analog computer animation system that can generate extremely fluid animation (60 fields for NTSC vs 24 frames per second for film). A special high-resolution monochrome camera records high-contrast artwork that is then displayed on a high-resolution CRT screen where it’s deflection signals are passed through a special analog computer that enables the operator to bend the image in a variety of ways. Then end result could be anything from slightly warped image to results that look like oscilloscope art. The resulting gray scale image is then shot from the screen with video camera and fed into a colorizer.
It is a fascinating part of early history of computer graphics. The unusual collaboration between operators and engineers led to some of the most iconic motion graphics of the 1980s—including spots for Super Bowl VIII, Star Wars, and more. Some people still think that nothing comes close to the real (analog) thing, so some of the last devices are preserved. Dave Sieg (was maintenance engineer of the device in 1979) have the dubious honor of owning and maintaining a working Scanimate system. The device has it’s own home page, own Wikipedia page and SIGGRAPH 98 History Project: Scanimation in the Analog Days presentation.
It is a very interesting device for technological and artistic viewpoint. Here are some interesting videos on this device.
Meet the Engineer Preserving The Last Analog Motion Graphics Machine
Engineer Dave Sieg has spent the last 20 years preserving the only working Scanimate, an analog motion graphics machine that was the staple of film/tv animation in the 70′s and 80′s. Dave discusses the technical and cultural impact of the Scanimate and what the future holds for this iconic machine.
Scanimate: The Origins of Computer Motion Graphics
Image West Scanimate Demo 15B
Excerpts from the DVD-1 from scanimate.net. Electronic Animation from the 1970′s and 1980′s made with the Scanimate Analog computers at Image West in Hollywood.
Scanimate News Report
Introduction to the Scanimate Part 1
Introduction to Scanimate Part Two
Introduction to Scanimate Part 3 – Analog circuits
Introduction to the Scanimate Part 4 – Using Phase-Locked Oscillators to Change Personality
Scanimate Files 20171028
Scanimate: The Origins of Computer Motion Graphics | Lynda.com from LinkedIn
Top 15 Best Scanimate Logos
Dolphin Productions 1974 demo reel
This is a 4-minute demo reel of TV commercials, logos, and graphics created by Dolphin Productions of New York, circa 1974. The material was created with their in-house “Scanimate” computer, outputting analog graphics to monitors which were then rephotographed and keyed using conventional 1970s video switchers. Given the primitive working conditions of that era, the images are surprisingly sophisticated and colorful, and created some very memorable graphics for their time, some of which hold up even today.
Scanimate Effects Excerpt