John Whitney Catalog 1961 028

John Whitney’s demo reel of work created with his analog computer/film camera magic machine he built from a WWII anti-aircraft gun sight. Also Whitney and the techniques he developed with this machine were what inspired Douglas Trumbull (special fx wizard) to use the slit scan technique on 2001: A Space Odyssey

The analogue computer Whitney used to create his most famous animations was built in the late 1950s by converting the mechanism of a World War II M-5 Antiaircraft Gun Director.[1] Later, Whitney would augment the mechanism with an M-7 mechanism, creating a twelve-foot-high machine.[2] Design templates were placed on three different layers of rotating tables and photographed by multiple-axis rotating cameras. Color was added during optical printing. Whitney’s son, John, Jr., described the mechanism in 1970:

I don’t know how many simultaneous motions can be happening at once. There must be at least five ways just to operate the shutter. The input shaft on the camera rotates at 180 rpm, which results in a photographing speed of 8 fps. That cycle time is constant, not variable, but we never shoot that fast. It takes about nine seconds to make one revolution. During this nine-second cycle the tables are spinning on their own axes while simultaneously revolving around another axis while moving horizontally across the range of the camera, which may itself be turning or zooming up and down. During this operation we can have the shutter open all the time, or just at the end for a second or two, or at the beginning, or for half of the time if we want to do slit-scanning[3]
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