Antics Logo Antics History - Imperial College

Imperial College, London

Below images are from Alan Kitching's first experiments at Imperial College in 1972, which resulted from a conversation with computer artist Colin Emmett one evening at the local pub. Emmett was already engaged in experiments at Imperial College under the auspices of the Royal College of Art, but Kitching proposed a wider vision of what computer animation technique could achieve, so Emmett challenged him to learn how to program - in Fortran - and then join him on the RCA project. Next day, Kitching went to his local library, took out a book called 'Teach Yourself Fortran' by Daniel D. McCracken, and after a late-night 6-hour session with it, had a program ready to take to Imperial College. As agreed, the pair went off to Imperial College, where Kitching was introduced to the operation of the punched card machines, and the formalities required by the IBM Job Control Language. The first results were as follows:


The above two images are frames from Kitching's first effort - an animated logo for his own company, Grove Park Studio. The animation itself is very similar to work produced at the time by the 'Scanimate' system in New York, which was the first electronic animation system to achieve notable commercial success - though it was in fact an analogue video effects system (with digital control), not a purely digital computer system.

The program (on punched cards) was run on the IBM mainframe at Imperial College, with the result output on tape and subsequently recorded on black-and-white film using the SC-4020 microfilm recorder at the (then) Atlas Computer Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

The sequence uses 3 colours, which were produced by making 2 separate black-and-white negatives, and later combined using the Technicolor process. It was this that gave rise to the name 'Antics', originally conceived as an acronym for "ANimated Technicolor-Image Computer System".

The Dream of Arthur Sleap

This was a 35mm animated cinema commercial made by Alan Kitching in 1972 for the British Film Institute to promote BFI membership. The script, the sound track, and the voices were also all done by Kitching himself. The film used traditional cel animation technique throughout - except for the end title, which is a computer-animated sequence based on the BFI logo lettering used in the opening title. (The lettering style later became adopted for the Antics logo itself.)


The end title used exactly the same program as the Grove Park logo sequence, except with different image data, and with only monochrome output. The aim of this BFI title experiment was to show that freely-drawn shapes (such as the BFI logo lettering) could be animated in this way, to a professional standard - as opposed to the geometry-based images which were prevalent in computer graphics at this time.

And in case you're wondering, here's some images from the rest of the (hand animated) film:


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