Apr 7, 2010

John Whitney Bio By Anthony Bevilacqua

John Whitney is known as an inventor, composer and animator who was born in Pasadena, California on April 8th, 1917. He died at the age of 78 on September 22, 1995. He is frequently considered to be the father of computer animation. He went to Pomona College and studied the art of music in Paris for a year. When he returned to America, he began to collaborate with his brother, James. He was awarded first prize at the First International Experimental Film Festival for a film he did with his brother and also won the Guggenheim Fellowship. But along with achieving distinction in the experimental film world, he made his mark in television with commercials and in movies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. His work varied greatly; it went from being considered psychedelic to being influenced by Native Americans. His work and name would be nothing without him perfecting the analogue computer. The following quote is a description of the device he used to create his art.
The analogue computer Whitney used to create his most famous animations was built in the late 1950s by converting the mechanism of a World War II M-5 Antiaircraft Gun Director.[1] Later, Whitney would augment the mechanism with an M-7 mechanism, creating a twelve-foot-high machine.[2] Design templates were placed on three different layers of rotating tables and photographed by multiple-axis rotating cameras. Color was added during optical printing. Whitney's son, John, Jr., described the mechanism in 1970: ‘I don't know how many simultaneous motions can be happening at once. There must be at least five ways just to operate the shutter. The input shaft on the camera rotates at 180 rpm, which results in a photographing speed of 8 fps. That cycle time is constant, not variable, but we never shoot that fast. It takes about nine seconds to make one revolution. During this nine-second cycle the tables are spinning on their own axes while simultaneously revolving around another axis while moving horizontally across the range of the camera, which may itself be turning or zooming up and down. During this operation we can have the shutter open all the time, or just at the end for a second or two, or at the beginning, or for half of the time if we want to do slit-scanning. ‘”

This link is of one of his earlier digital works, Arabesque-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7h0ppnUQhE

This link is Catalogue, which was made when he perfected the analogue computer-


These are the opening credits, which he worked on for the film Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkHn8PNGYaA

This is a picture of Whitney and his brother James at work.

1 comment:

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