Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo (1958)                                                                       


First computer animation ever    

vertigo 1958
Original Poster

Video (HD 1080p)

Soul Bass mechanical computer
Mechanical computer used to make CGI intro


1) Hitchcock hired John Whitney to made computer animated opening sequence, Whitney rigged up a WWII 850-lbs, 11,000-components anti-aircraft  targeting computer called "The M5 gun director" to a platform. It was a mechanical computer which needed 5 soldiers to operate, but a computer nonetheless. He then placed cels on that platform and used a pendulum to achieve the needed endless rotation. He collaborated with the graphic designer Saul Bass. Computer animation used first time in history.

2) Opening sequence (designed by Saul Bass) correspond with motifs from the movie itself. For Vertigo there is a strong spiral element in the opening sequence, spirals that correspond to the staircase that triggers Scottie’s Vertigo.

3) Saul Bass insisted that the spirals, which represent 19th century equations, should be accurate and not drawn freehand, which requited both a pendulum and a rotating table (specifically an animation stand). Alas, no animation stand of that time could continuously rotate without its wiring getting messed up.-computer animation used instead. Whitney realized that the gun director could rotate endlessly, and in perfect synchronization with the swinging of a pendulum. He placed his animation cels on the platform that held the gun director, and above it suspended a pendulum from the ceiling which held a pen that was connected to a 24-foot high pressurized paint reservoir. The movement of the pendulum in relation to the rotation of the gun director generated the spiral drawings used in Vertigo’s opening sequence.

4) John Whitney Jr. (son of John Whitney) later did computer effects for Westworld (1973) - another revolutionary movie in CGI history.

5) Computer animation is the process used for generating animated images. The more general term computer-generated imagery (CGI) encompasses both static scenes and dynamic images, while computer animation only refers to the moving images. Modern computer animation usually uses 3D computer graphics, although 2D computer graphics are still used for stylistic, low bandwidth, and faster real-time renderings. Sometimes, the target of the animation is the computer itself, but sometimes film as well.

6) There was early examples of proto-computer animation called oscilloscope films - that was not really considered as computer graphics today (altough in 1940-50s there was computer games that used oscilloscopes). Example - Norman McLaren film "Around is Around" (1951) Eneri (1953) by Hy Hirsch, and Abstronic (1954) by Mary Ellen Bute.