4_Digital Animation and Visual Culture In Process

Research 4.1 : Analogue and digital

TASK: Find some analogue and digital animations to compare and contrast their visual qualities. You could look at early cartoons and their later digital remakes or compare CGI animations with claymation.
Look at their visual qualities and consider what is lost or gained. Can you
obviously tell that one is digital and the other hand crafted and what visual clues give this away? What does each offer in terms of the image they present.
Add your research notes and reflections to your learning log.

  • Analogue (from the Greek ana-logos meaning “proportion” or “ratio”). The continuous physical relationship between the original message and its reproduction. Speech and writing are represented by print in a book; light bounces off an object and is focused by a camera lens, changing the colours of chemicals on film. These are one-to-one correspondences between a signal and its translation into a physical medium.
  • Digital (from the Latin digitus -finger or toe) implies the medium of binary digits (bits) that computers use to process information. Two states, ‘On’ and ‘Off’ are represented by 0 and 1 to code all types of digital information. Digital is not a continuous stream, as with analogue signals but a set of information.

Analog media can no longer mean what it did in the pre-digital era, but now stands in relation to the dominant digital animation culture.

Allan Warburton argues that:

in mainstream media, as in art production, analogue practice is often fetishized, with the traditional idea of craft being amplified into spectacle. 

Tonya Jameson:

“Creating something with our hands gives us a false sense of control at a time when we have little”

Fiona Hackney:
the popularity of craft in media production

“may be read as a means of addressing the problems and anxieties surrounding the acceleration of modern life (unemployment, the strain of new work processes and their effects on physical and mental life)”

“This is a file, which was unintentionally downloaded from my brain, 14355 days after my birth, around twenty minutes past four in the afternoon, and was forgotten to delete.”

Alex Heim on 14355_16_23_05.rts (2015)
See vimeo page 

Motion Capture

In the 1880s, Etienne-Jules Marey attempted to record pure movement. He invented a ‘geometric chronophotographic’ system to isolate graphic
representations of movement that were discrete from the original subject. In one example (pictured above) he attached a multiple cross section of white sticks to his subject’s back and photographed the subject walking. The subject was dressed completely in black and placed before a black background. In the
resulting images the person would ‘disappear’ leaving only the denoting white lines. These lines were then composited onto a single photographic plate, which Marey took to represent ‘pure movement’.

Current motion- capture software and technology uses essentially the same approach either magnetic or optically based. Both systems rely on placing points
on an actor or subject, then reading the motion by a series of sensors or cameras. This technology was used in James Cameron’s animated feature film
Avatar (2009).

Other types of motion capture (mocap systems) ‘directly measure joint angles of rods and potentiometers’ which provide a recording of movement abstracted from the original form. A similar process referred to as video-based motion capture, allows one to extract pure movement information from already existing film or video footage. Motion capturing has found its way into everyday appliances from video games systems to mobile devices. Each of these motion capture systems represents a significant shift in the recording of ‘pure motion’ and an effective method by which to consider movement abstracted from form