Computer Image Track #1 from the Scanimate DVD
00:00:00 The Development of Computer Generated Animated Characters
The Stick Man
August 1967
This footage was shot on 16mm film in real time from the Animac system in Lee Harrison’s attic lab in Blue Bell, PA. The line segments are controlled by individual potentiometers and have been programmed to link to each other in a tree-structure, later called parenting. The controls were attached to a harness so that a person’s movements would be represented in real-time on the screen.
May 1967
The Scanimate had a “lip circuit” which could synchronize animated lips to live audio. The circuit originated with Animac, and this bizarre character, made entirely from oscillators and multipliers shows the genesis of the lip circuit. A He was playfully named Ralph, nobody really knows why. At this point, no camera input was used, only oscillators. Shot on 16mm film
Beautiful Noise
June 1968
This character is much more advanced, consisting of more complex oscillations, and a sine/cosine mouth that opens and closes in sync to the vocalist track. This was generated by Animac as well, and some of the motion was from the mechanical harness. 16mm film.
The Dynne
June 1968
This little guy is the next in the progression, incorporating harness-controlled arms, legs, head, with animated eyes and a lip-circuit mouth in sync with the audio track. It would have been interesting to watch the guys controlling this behind the scenes with Animac. 16m film.
June 1968
This was an early attempt to model a human figure with line segments for jointed arms and legs, controlled by Animac. 16mm film.
Mr. Computer Image
Oct 1968
This animated guy had a face made of the ABC logo at the time, and was pitched to the network execs to present the election returns. (They didn't buy it.)
Turn On Dancer
March 1969
This guy dances to music.
The Lips
May 1969
A conversation between a man and a woman, using the Scanimate Lip Circuit to automatically lip-sync some sinusoidal waves appearing as lips.
The Book Bag
May 1969
You can definitely see Lee Harrison trying to find a commercial use for his invention!
The Apteryx & Bunny
December 1970
Seen today, it seems simple, but this was ground-breaking real-time computer animation.
The Saga
March 1971
I wish I knew the story behind this one.
Groovy Glum
April 1971
Another early animated segment, meant to sell electronic animation to the traditional studios.
The Animated Computer
Denver's Channel 9 features "The Animated Computer". Reporter Mike Landis visits Computer Image in the mid-eighties, shows the company's history and background, and interviews Lee Harrison III.

The Cave Man
This is one of the best demonstrations of the CAESAR computer's animation capabilities. Starting with a Kodalith artwork scanned by the artwork camera, the raster is segmented into the various component pieces and the operator pulls the body, arms, limbs together and shows the character coming to life.

Snoopy Demo
Unfortunately, this footage breaks up several times, but it shows the process of animating a simple cartoon of Snoopy with Scanimate. I don't have names for the two operators.

The Electric Company
Excerpts from the heavily Scanimate-intensive Electric Company. Actually, as I understand it, most of the Scanimate material used in the Electric Company was done by Dolphin Productions in New York City, not Computer Image.

Intro to Fourier Series
Since Scanimate did almost everything using oscillating sine waves, it was a natural to use it to demonstrate the Fourier Series.

A simple Scanimate animation showing how material in a combustion chamber burns.

Computer Image Demo 79
Computer Image Demo Reel from 1979. I believe most of this work was done with Scanimate.

Computer Image Demo 1982
Computer Image Demo Reel from 1982. This opens and closes with material done with SYSTEM IV, which used raster rescan technology but had a 3D rotation matrix, allowing a unique combination of raster and vector graphics effects.

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NOTES: There is no telling who actually owns the copyright to these images now, since Lee Harrison, founder of Computer Image, and inventor of the Scanimate is dead, Computer Image and Image West are both no longer in business, and the clients the jobs were done for have long since ceased to care about them. I present them here as a historical archive of material that I feel is an important piece of the history of computer-generated animation. Much of this material is supplemented by explanations and further details on this website. I would like someday to archive this material with nice menus and package it better, but I am doing this as a labor of love and in hopes of preventing these images from disappearing from the public eye altogether.

Note about the footage quality: Some of the earliest footage was copied from a VHS tape provided by Ed Tajchman, unfortunately recorded at SLP speed. I have done the best I can to clean it up and time-base correct it, but there are a few dropouts, scratches, and losses of synchronization that are unavoidable. I have included this material anyway, for its historical significance. I encourage anybody who has better copies or additional material to contact me,

Updated: June 03, 2022