The Use of the Computer in Animation Production

Author(s): Edwin Catmull ; Alexander Schure
Publisher: Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
Publication Date: 1 February 1979
Conference Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Conference Date: 3 February 1979
Page(s): 83 - 87
ISBN (Paper): 978-1-61482-908-9
DOI: 10.5594/M00419



NYIT has assembled a team of computer scientists, video technicians and animation artists for the express purpose of generating images and animation of professional broadcast quality. - The facilities include many computers, framebuffers, 2-inch videotape machines, sophisticated computer graphics equipment and a post-production video studio. The central piece of equipment is the "frame-buffer," a memory which stores an entire rgb picture, has a video output port and a port for random access by computer. - NYIT has undertaken a considerable software effort to make that hardware useable in a production environment. The programs developed thus far give us the capability to "paint" backgrounds, to color animated figures, create special effects, combine images, change scanned-in images, and digitally synthesize or modify a broad class of images. Our focus has been on 2-d animation. Having made substantial gains in solving problems in that area we are currently adapting the programs for production. - The researchers have paid considerable attention to the technical problems of aliasing, color control and image quality. In addition they are now focusing on 3-d animation. - The work has not been without difficulties. Digitally synthesized pictures can take from 15 seconds to 2 minutes to create using a general purpose computer. In addition, once a program is developed, it must be moved out of a research environment and into a production one. - The NYIT system of hardware and software has been successfully used to make an animated film, some test commercials and animated sequences to demonstrate the power and versatility of the system. We have been able to produce some astonishing results.