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Algorithmic Animation and El-Fish

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Jonathan Kurtzman <jonathan_kurtzman@notes.monitor.com> writes:

There are several interesting things about El-Fish, reviewed in TidBITS-231. Its fish breeding capability, which follows genetic rules, is fairly well-known. Less known is something which may in the end prove more important, namely that its animation is algorithmic and not frame by frame. This is why it is so life-like. The program was developed in Russia. The animator emigrated to the Boston area where I met him in a computer store. He explained and demonstrated for me how he had developed mathematical descriptions of the possible motions. This was necessary because the program will breed incredibly odd-looking, impossible fish, making frame by frame animation impossible. Because the fish move by rules, they essentially choose where to swim from moment to moment. To prove this wasn't a fluke, he then showed me a program of horses trotting which he said he put together in a few days. It was eerie to watch the horses run next to each other, cross, turn away, etc. While much animation is moving toward captured motion (optically, magnetically), the potential of algorithmic animation is vast. By the way, he hated the straight at you / away from you azimuths (because they look squashed) and was upset that they were added to his work. I hesitate to tell you how little he was paid.

 

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