I’ve always thought the term Rock Opera described two things that belonged together only in the most twisted of contexts. Add to that a narcissistic “hero” called White Gold and place him in a whitewashed world called Milquarious, and apparently you’ve got something the California Milk Producers Board can get behind to propel the “Got Milk?” campaign into the annals of advertising – um, footnotes? I’m still scratching my head about how my ancient analog animation computer, Scanimate, got sucked into the Vortex. Literally! Seriously! I’m not making this up!
It seems the look of “analog light” – that glowy chromic warmth that characterized much of the computer animation seen on TV in the seventies and eighties – is back in demand again. It would also seem that all the digital wizardry of modern-day imaging software can’t quite manage to get the same “look”. I guess its like the audio afficionadoes and their love of vacuum tube amps.
Thus it was that I ended up spending three days recently shooting hours of glowy, warping, swirling animation so that when White Gold and his buddy get sucked into “the Vortex”, they fall through a sea of high-definition Scanimation before landing on… wherever it is.
The Scanimate was never a high-resolution machine, due largely to the limitations of the NTSC Television standard, and to some sixties-vintage pickup cameras. Enter the RED Digital Cinema Camera, the latest whiz-bang technology transforming Hollywood from celluloid to digital moviemaking. Capable of shooting at up to 4,000 pixel images (about 12.5 Megapixels in consumer digital photo speak) at up to 120 frames per second, this expensive little toy makes it possible for my old Scanimate to take on a new life in the digital world. And here in East Tennessee, Frank Weeks at Digital Cinema South just happens to have one!
By way of background, I worked in Hollywood in the eighties at a company that had two of these strange machines. The obscure company that built them only produced eight of them, and for about ten years, the airwaves were filled with “electronic animation” they produced. Everything from the sizzling spiraling patterns that numbers and letters transformed into on “Sesame Street”, to the guy’s expanding stomach (“IndiGESTion”) for Alka-Seltzer, to the Death Star sequence in the first Star Wars movie – all were produced on Scanimate. As far as I know, I have the only remaining working machine.
Joe Mullen, who does motion graphics for Buck.tv recently flew out from LA to supervise the work for three days. Joe said: “The cool thing about Scanimate is that the CRT monitor gives off this kind of analog light that is very hard to simulate digitally.” (see the video below)
So as I understand it, being only peripherally involved in this whole campaign, “The Battle for Milquarious” officially launches October 5, so if you want to see what a Rock Opera about Milk – with vintage analog animation – looks like be sure to check it out!
I’m not making this up! Really!