Cartoons, Computers and Antics – Page 5

In contrast, Antics began as a concept, a clear vision of an “ideal” animation machine, which grew out of my previous ten years experience in conventional animation, graphic design, and architecture. In effect, Antics has been a concept waiting for hardware to come along with sufficient power to handle it properly, and at an affordable cost but in the meantime, Antics has been steadily developed to make the best use of available hardware and to get as close to the ideal as possible.

In 1980, in an article for the BKSTS Journal, I nick-named the ideal version “steam-age” and the then current version “stone-age”, and described their differences in some detail. Essentially, the principles of what they do is the same, the difference is in the directness and simplicity of the “handling”, and the speed and ease of creating the animation – especially in the case of character animation work.

Antics has developed enormously since 1980, but still hasn’t quite reached “steam-age” – it is still essentially a stone-age machine, though now a pretty good one, and able to handle a wide variety of work very effectively. The latest Antics hardware now makes the aim attainable within the next couple of years, and we certainly intend to do so as soon as possible – Antics isn’t a one-off finished product that will be obsolete in a few years, but a system growing steadily towards a very clear goal. But there is no big company or finance behind this – apart from a few specific sponsored projects, all the development work is funded by royalties from studios using Antics, so it is a chicken-and-egg operation, and the more feedback we get from animators working with it, the quicker the development will progress.

Inbetweens: (top) a pair of matched key drawings, profile and front view; (middle) line-test version of the same – this also shows the use of ‘soft-shading’, where the machine automatically fills-in soft-shaded colour between drawn lines; (left) inbetween frames produced automatically.

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Printed in Animator Issue 24 (Winter 1988)