Making it Move pt. 6: Bits N Pieces

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

Loose Ends

To round out the pitch video I pulled out the bulk of the other animations and animation tests that I’d done in the time since I’d first gotten by hands on IPS MovieMaker (at some point after I first got it, the software was republished by Electronic Arts, with a few audio compatibility issues added, just for fun). They were:


The Amiga computer launched during the period these animations were being produced and virtually everyone was aping their (then-impressive) BOING! demo, featuring a spinning ball bouncing back and forth across the screen. I was writing for ANALOG Computing magazine at the time, so I got the idea to do a twist on “Boing!” that would have the magazine’s “A” initial bouncing around the screen. All the boing type demos I’d seen up to that point were very flat and there was no attempt at dimensional shading, so I decided to make my bouncing “A” flash through a series of color to enhance the idea that it was an object reflecting light (much as I’d done on the 2nd Artek logo mentioned in a previous post). Because MovieMaker animations couldn’t really loop seamlessly, instead of starting the animation with the letter on-screen I had it enter, bounce around, then exit before the 300 frame limit.

The ANALOG Computing “A” gets bouncing.

Click to start animation (opens new window).

One thing I don’t recall is why I decided to have the letter bounce off all four sides of the screen instead of bouncing in an arc like the ball on the Amiga… but possibly it was just laziness of my part!


Since my sister and brother had Atari 8-bit computers, I made a few digital birthday cards to send to them using MovieMaker.

Birthday Blast is simply a match lighting a candle on a cake, which then explodes, leaving the message “Happy Birthday!” to drop in from the top of the screen. Nothing much notable about it except that animating the flickering flame was the most work…albeit I don’t think I did it very well.

Another birthday “card” repurposed.

Click to start animation (opens new window).

A more elaborate animation was based on my love for Warner Bros. cartoons, so I decided to let Marvin Martian finally use his “Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator” to blow up that pesky Earth as birthday fireworks…with predictable results.

“Low resolution makes me very angry!”

Click to start animation (opens new window).

I was pretty happy with the simple but effective vista I was able to create, especially the gun and the Earth. In contrast to the rolling waddle I’d done on the Opus animation, I recalled Marvin walked in in a very stiff fashion with everything but his legs stationary. I did do this, but I didn’t get the feet right. At the time I didn’t have home video (hard to believe in this day and age) and had no easy easy way to study how the cartoons animated his feet (fact: they’re just a blur of too many tennis shoes).

I dunno what this fascination with explosions was…probably just a cheap way to get a punchline across. Hey, it worked for the Muppets!


One other animation I’d done was a test to see how well I could make simple facial expressions read. For this I repurposed a Batman parody I’d created for a comic I’d drawn in high school: Catman (before I knew there was a DC comics villain with that name). All I did with this was animate the eyes, eyebrow stripes and mouth, and moved the head up and down a bit. I also used the ZOOM feature again, this time to go from a medium wide to a medium shot (with the accompanying halving of the resolution).

CATMAN: Nag nag nag…

Click to start animation (opens new window).

The thing I like most about this animation was my using the MovieMaker musical tones to create sound in sync with his lips, and to emphasize the eyebrow actions. It keeps the animation alive.


This was actually a series of animated segments making fun of computer development. These included a 2001: A Space Odyssey sendup in which the monolith is revealed to be a Univac mainframe than can’t add 2 and 2, and an Apple logo being sliced in two by an arrow and reveal to be “rotten” because it was “too expensive” (lame). I could be wrong in my recollection of the order of these events, but I believe that those were added as “prequels” to the animation below: a silly piece in which the logos of various home computer brands slugged it out in “The Big Shakeout”. It was inspired by an Atari computer demo called “Apple Kill” in which an Atari logo takes down its Apple counterpart (wishful thinking on an Atari user’s part to be sure).

“Apple Kill” goes WW III

Click to start animation (opens new window).

I like the animation in this because it’s so simple. The most fun things to animate were the Texas Instruments logo clip clopping around, the Atari logo playing Space Invaders cannon, and the Commodore logo first squeezing down so it’s “flag” shoots off as a projectile, and then animates like a Space Invader.

The full animation isn’t included in this clip, but it ended with Atari triumphant. Wishful thinking, indeed.


2 Responses to “Making it Move pt. 6: Bits N Pieces”

  1. 1 G2309
    August 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Really enjoyed the video its cool what you can do with the 8 bit styling. Liked the Sound of music moment 🙂

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