How was the ending of "2001" animated?
September 15, 2005 9:38 PM   Subscribe

How did Kubrick film the psychedelic 'stargate' sequence of "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Some of the movie's special effects are obviously crude CGI (like the cockpit displays during spacecraft rendezvous) but the ending seems far more sophisticated. Regular old animation? Looks too... digital. Articles on 'the making of' I've seen never discuss this all-important visual (although it's cool knowing about the spinning set used for example in the jogging scene).
posted by Rash to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Slit-scan photography.
posted by scallion at 9:48 PM on September 15, 2005

Best answer: It is all Douglas Trumbull- slit-scan photography which he adapted for motion pictures (he also was a primary in the invention of the Imax technology, incidentally).

See here.
posted by oflinkey at 9:50 PM on September 15, 2005

Best answer: It's called "slitscan" photography.

By the way, there was no CGI in "2001." The "computer screens" were animated using traditional techniques.
posted by grumblebee at 10:03 PM on September 15, 2005

CGI definetly didn't exist at the time. This is when people used computers with teletype machines, you type into a keyboard and the computer prints results onto paper. Most of the animation in TRON was actualy hand drawn even.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 PM on September 15, 2005

Speaking of computers, here's a page wheresomeone used computers to 'reverse' the slit-scan video and calculate the original 2-d images. (via wikipedia)
posted by delmoi at 11:00 PM on September 15, 2005

attack of the wikipedias.
posted by crunchland at 11:16 PM on September 15, 2005

Most of the animation in TRON was actualy hand drawn even.

Do you have a source for that? I find it dubious.
posted by kindall at 11:31 PM on September 15, 2005

Yep, you are right kindall, TRON was using CG extensively - CGI in TRON (via Ken Perlin) and also here (via Wikipedia).
posted by b. at 1:23 AM on September 16, 2005

CGI did not exist for 2001. The cockpit displays were animated the old-fashioned way. But as for your main question, yes, Trumbull's slitscan is what what produced it.
posted by pmurray63 at 4:25 AM on September 16, 2005

About Tron: some of the backgrounds (particularly some of the "landscapes") were traditional hand-painted matte paintings (matte artist Peter Ellenshaw was a producer after all) created to look computer-generated in order to blend with the actual CG elements and backgrounds. CG texturing at that time was much too crude to create some of the effects shown.
posted by elgilito at 4:43 AM on September 16, 2005

I remember hearing that the "nebula" effects were done by filming the interactions of various oils on water.

One effect I don't understand, though, are the octahedrons with animated patterns on them. I can't figure out a way to do that with late-60s technology. Perhaps they made real objects and projected film onto the sides, then filmed that?
posted by zsazsa at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2005

L. This is all oddly sounding a lot like a "How did they build the pyramids?" discussion.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:03 AM on September 16, 2005

Wasn't there also a scene in 2001 that shows a wireframe model on a computer screen, but in fact it's actually made of wire painted with phospherescent paint? Or was that another movie?
posted by teg at 12:57 PM on September 16, 2005

To answer my own sub question: Yes, it was 2001.
posted by teg at 2:22 PM on September 16, 2005

(Odd timing on this question. I was just reading about this very topic last Wednesday...)
posted by neckro23 at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2005

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