WGBH-TV Design Department: NOVA Opening

  • ©, WGBH-TV Design Department




    NOVA Opening



Artist Statement:

    This still comes from an animation sequence made for the PBS “Nova” series. Without the use of computers, it would have been very difficult to create.

    The animation began in a conventional manner with a designer drawing the sequence out on a storyboard. It then went to a technical director who decided how to design and model each element and coordinate them with one another for the animation.

    Two-dimensional techniques were used to make “flat” images and to perform zooms and pans. In those instances where three-dimensional images were required, the objects were described mathematically in the computer. To give an illusion of continuous motion, the computer rendered the objects from a fractionally different perspective for each frame of animation.

    The Nova opening is only 15 seconds long, but through it, the viewer takes a voyage from the atomic to the cosmic scale. This is a voyage that clearly, no traveler could ever take, but which is represented here for the viewer by graphics.

Technical Information:

    DEC PDP 11/70 and 11/34 series, VAX 1170 Genisco frame buffer
    Evans and Sutherland picture system
    IVC 9000 video recorder

    Proprietary software by NYIT written in C

Process Information:


    Film and video are the media of modern entertainment. Animation is the bridge between static print graphics and dynamic film and video graphics. Traditionally, labor-intensive frame-by­-frame drawings were coupled with time and motion to create animation.



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