Making it Move pt. 5: Place Yer Bets

Continuing on the earlier posts about my early animations on the Atari 8-bit computers using MovieMaker.

Betting on Computer Animation

As I recall, the aforementioned couple who were interested in trying to find some business outlets for computer graphics had some contacts with someone at the Fitzgeralds casino in downtown Reno, and as we discussed that we talked about the idea of pitching a computer-animated video that could play on a loop on a casino hotel’s TV system that would not only plug the casino’s facilities, but would also have little tutorials on how to play some of the more complex games, like craps.

As part of this, I animated a few segments related to casinos. For example, animating the clover floating down and landing in place in the Fitzgeralds logo. I imagined this would be an interstitial that would appear between other segments.

You always win at a place with a 4-Leaf Clover emblem, right?

Click to start animation (opens new window).

I used the very limited musical scale in MovieMaker to create a short descending motif that I thought worked well.  I don’t recall exactly why I went for a blue background, but I suspect it was so that the clover could light up in bright green upon landing.

Next up was demonstrating a casino game, and I picked the hardest game to explain: CRAPS. There were two parts to this animation, only one of which appears in the video linked here.  First up was the title card, in which a floating glove picks up dice on a craps table and rolls them right into the camera and then the name of the game would appear.


Click to start the animation (opens new window).

The dice rolling and bouncing in perspective was fairly easy to do, and I settled on the floating glove because the MovieMaker program’s limitations didn’t leave much room for animating a largish human figure.

What does come back to me about the process of making these animations, when looking at this one, is that I recall drawing a lot of the elements outside of MovieMaker (which used a joystick as a drawing tool) using the AtariArtist software and an Atari Touch Tablet (click to see Alan Alda hawking it). AtariArtist had more sophisticated (by the day’s standards) paint tools (lines, rays, circles, ellipses, etc.), but the problem was it drew in the Atari’s mode 7-plus not the mode 7 that MovieMaker used, so the vertical resolution was twice that of MovieMaker. I don’t recall what tool I used to convert the files back and forth, but I remember doing it. So I’d draw the art in AtariArtist, downscale it, and then do cleanup tweaks inside MovieMaker.

Atari Artist interface...watch out PhotoShop!

Anyway, the second part of the animation used text and animated spinning dice to explain how the rolls worked in craps, but the way I did it would have probably been more confusing rather than enlightening, and I’d have needed to rethink it in order to convince any casino that it was a good idea.

The final animation was a slot machine, but I don’t recall if I did this before or after the animations mentioned above. I don’t like it very much as the drawing of the machine is very flat and uninteresting, and I should have put some sort of payout chart on the front instead of the logo.

If only...

Click to start the animation (opens new window).

Speaking of that logo, HiSUG was the High Sierra Users Group, a Reno-based computer club. I wrote for its newsletter a few times.

Since this video was outmoded by the time it was finished none of this material had any obvious payoff. One might argue that I’d placed some bad bets, but everything I learned working within the strict confines of MovieMaker and the Atari 8-bit would serve me in good stead in work that would pay off, and, surprisingly, many of those skills would come back into play 15-20 years later when working on graphics for mobile phones.


0 Responses to “Making it Move pt. 5: Place Yer Bets”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: