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Movies Aug 04, 2008 No Comments

Excerpts from the films of James Whitney, early pioneer of computer animation…

James Whitney, Yantra, 1957.

“Between 1950 and 1955, Witney laboured to construct a truly astounding masterpiece, Yantra. The film was produced entirely by hand. By punching grid patterns in 5″ by 7″ cards with a pin, James was able to paint through these pinholes onto other 5″ x 7″ cards, to create images of rich complexity and give the finished work a very dynamic and flowing motion. Footage from an early version of Yantra was shown at the historic Vortex Concerts in San Francisco’s Morrison planetarium which began in 1957. Here it acquired its soundtrack, Henk Badings’ “Cain and Abel”.

“Analogue computer equipment developed by brother John, allowed James to complete Lapis (1965) in two years, when it might have taken seven years otherwise. James drew dot patterns again for this film, but the camera was positioned using computer control, allowing each image to be overlaid from multiple angles. In this piece, smaller circles oscillate in and out in an array of colors resembling a kaleidoscope while being accompanied by Indian sitar music. The patterns become hypnotic and trance-inducing…”


James Witney, Lapis, 1967.

Andrew Frost

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