All listings for Practice: Analog Computers
Advents in video synthesis were taking place at roughly the same time that pioneering computer artists such as John Whitney, Larry Cuba, and Stan VanDerBeek were making the first films with analog computers. John Whitney's Cam Machine, for example, was an analog computer. A digital computer uses binary code as its input. Analog computers require that some material--a drawing, or photograph--be put together before being fed into the machine, meaning, in Gene Youngblood's words: "that a great deal of handicraft still is involved, though its relation to the final output is minimal. The original input may be as simple as a moire pattern or as complex as a syncretistic field of hand-painted dots--but some form of handmade or physically demonstrable information is required as input in the absence of conventional computer software." This handicraft was the driving force behind Whitney's invention. His modification of the military technology produced an apparatus with a rotating base that produced sine waves without tangling the wires of its attached pendulums. The device was a "precursor of computer animation stands developed nearly twenty years later." It was a process the filmmaker had been wrestling with for ten years, and the Hitchcock film gave him the opportunity to develop his technology to the point of a breakthrough. Whitney's interest in developing new technologies for abstract filmmaking led him to design machines used for the first computer-based animations. With assistance and funding from IBM, Whitney's artisanal experiments in computer animation paved the way for the increased use of computers to generate imagery in commercial films.