The first 3D animations of a human face are wonderfully creepy

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There is…no…sanctuary…!

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Also see this hand by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull:


I can’t find any evidence for it now, but I remember a paper from someone doing face simulation in the late 70’s or early 80’s. This was done using a face-shaped monochrome CRT with a convex shape. I think it was tinted to give a flesh tone away from the eyes and teeth. They wrote a face texture to it, and it would show a sort-of perspective when you moved your head.

Anyone remember this? I bet it was creepy as heck.

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Half of the video is just people messing with the sliders on what turns out to be the world’s first video game character creator.

I was half expecting the end of the video to fade out and then fade back in on the back of a horse drawn wagon.

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Not quite the same, but I do remember projection of video onto mannequin heads, which was a brief and creepy fad for museums in the 70’s.

ETA: not the same as projection mapping, of course.


Isn’t that pretty much the basis for a few of the effects in Disney’s Haunted Mansion. It opened in 1969.


I talked to a guy at IAAPA who sells those talking mannequins. They still create a moment of wonder.

It is insane that those animations were created in 1974. (or the hands in 72). Getting video games to render at a decent speed in the early 90’s was hard enough. I can’t imagine programming those faces in whatever platform they had then.

Still better than Tron. :man_shrugging:


The paper is actually quite fascinating, and yet horribly bland. All this stuff seems like child’s play now, but for 1972, this was bleeding edge. And Fred did it all on a time-shared PDP-10! Amazing! It’s like someone spent a semester teaching a knife how to sing opera.


Oh this was absolutely not real-time!

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But this was…

In 1954, Douglas T Ross who worked at Whirlwind SAGE wrote the first hand drawn graphics input program to a computer. His was a personal experiment that captured his finger’s movement and displayed it back onto a display scope.

I can find a record of someone animating Disney characters on the Whirlwind vector scope. I seem to remember Disney got interested, and tried to use the technology for generating in-between frames in about 1960.

The first computer I actually worked with, rather than submitted punched cards for, was a Hewlett-Packard in the early 70’s. It boasted 256 bits (16 registers of short integers) in magnetic core memory. Everything else was read off and on the magnetic drum. And yet, people were trying automatic translation, real-time speech generation, and modelling aircraft physics in the fifties. Once you see something doing calculations by itself, you know what has got to come. Ada Lovelace knew that.


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