Leading figures in birth of digital animation are profiled in The Dream Machine, a two-hour documentary that will be shown on July 30 during the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference and expo in Boston, Mass. The film was put together by David Sieg, who edited more than 30 hours of interviews and classic analog computer animation to chronicle the achievements of these visionary inventors and the computer that gave birth to a revolution.
Among the pioneers featured is Lee Harrison, whose Denver-based Computer Image Corp in the late 1970s developed and built eight Scanimate analog computers that would produce most of the electronic animation seen on television for nearly a decade.
Sieg worked for Image West in Hollywood, where a team of engineers and artists used two Scanimates to produce thousands of animated graphics for network TV shows, commercials and even a scene in the first Star Wars film. The doc features interviews with a number of people who cut their teeth on the Scanimates and are now heading up visual effects work at such leading companies as Digital Domain and Industrial Light & Magic. Sieg has the only remaining working Scanimate computer in his studio in Kingsport, Tennessee.
“Technology moves so fast, we forget sometimes how things ever got started.” Sieg states. “To me, the real story is not the machines, but the people. I feel like I’ve helped put a human face to this amazing period of time, and perhaps helped tell a story that would have been lost otherwise.”
More information on the Scanimate computers and The Dream
Machine can be found at http://scanimate.net.