I was at a trade exhibition in the early 1980's when I saw the first prototype of a computer graphics system designed for television. It was produced by a leading American hardware manufacturer, and was being demonstrated with all the "bells and whistles" associated with launch of such a pioneering product. When I approached a salesman to ask about the price, I was viewed up and down, and at twenty five years old was obviously assessed as not being a suitable prospect for such an expensive piece of equipment... and I was suitably dismissed.
However, not too far away the BBC and Logica were showing their new product, "Flair". Also a paint system for television graphics, it was a rival to the American system, but without the same "bells and whistles" type of sales presentation. I bought one!
That was the start of CAL VideoGraphics Ltd, the first facilities company based in London to specialize in computer graphics for television.I went on to buy the first commercially available Paintbox from Quantel, the first FGS4000 3D animation system from Bosch... and to build a company which was to become internationally well known for it's excellence in 2D and 3D computer animation.
Art Direction: Malcolm Stone and Ricky Eyers
Another very important event in my career was providing the filmSuperman III with computer animations for use on set as "on-screen" displays. They were used in the showdown scene at the end of the film.
Here are the steps we needed to produce the 3D "green wireframe" animations!
- First we made two physical plaster cast models of Christopher Reeve.
- We then cut one into thin horizontal slices, the other into vertical ones.
- Next I traced around every "slice" of both models onto separate pieces of paper.
- These individual contours were then "plotted" into into the software using a CAD/CAM tablet.
- This data was then used to construct the "wireframe" model of Superman.
- The 3D program produced the animations to show the rotation of Superman.
- That animation was then printed out frame by frame onto paper in black and white.
- Every frame was then "frame-grabbed" into Flair with a video camera.
- By hand, the original black line from the printer was converted to green and every frame cleaned up.
- Every frame was then recorded for ten seconds onto video tape.
- Finally, in a video editing suite, a single frame from each of the ten second sequences was edited together to produce the final animation!
As the business grew and CAL VideoGraphics became well known as an animation and VFX facility, we opened Axis Associates as a design company and Peter Claridge Pictures at Shepperton Studios to provide film and video production services.
In 1989 I "left" the company that I had founded, and moved to Zurich where I set up Peter Claridge Pictures AG.