How a War Surplus Anti-Aircraft Gun Helped Inspire 2001: A Space Odyssey

In the late 1950s, animator John Whitney (perhaps most famous for assisting Saul Bass to create the opening title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo) built a mechanical analog computer using the mechanisms from several WW II anti-aircraft guns. He used the resulting “cam machine” to produce short experimental animated films, releasing a demo reel in 1961 under the title Catalog. 2001 special effects artist Douglas Trumbull saw Whitney’s Catalog and was inspired by the artist's slit-scan technique, using it for the animated sequences in 2001. According to writer William Moritz, Whitney submitted “a proposal for a monolith as a computer-generated effect that would have looked different from anything else in the film. He was turned down.” Nevertheless, Whitney became IBM’s first artist-in-residence in 1966, and is considered one of the forefathers of computer animation.

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DISCUSSION

The directors of the firm hired to

continue the credits after the other

people had been sacked, wish it to

be known that they have just been

sacked.

The credits have been completed

in an entirely different style at

great expense and at the last

minute.