Author Topic: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.  (Read 905 times)

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Offline Glitchy Windows 3.1Topic starter

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Hello,

So to begin I am at a point where im just going to random forums that mention computer graphics from the 80s as hope that I can find people who can help me with a problem/question that I have had from about a year or so. There is this video effect that I want to say was popular in the 80s/90s where I know to call it "Text Outline shine" or "Text Reflection Shine." I have only seen one instance of someone calling it the "Reflection shine" effect so I am going to stick with that due to the lack of information. Generally this effect has a similar behavior to a coin that has that shine when it is pointed to a light source and that shiny part rotates on the coin when you move it; the same can be said with a CD or DVD. They used this effect mainly on text and also graphics which I will attach some images and links for examples.

https://youtu.be/FQ70FSXrKtY?t=9 - Loews Theatres Policy
https://youtu.be/f4WYf2RxUJE?list=LL&t=36 - Scanimate Clips
https://youtu.be/YclB-1DtYfU?list=LL&t=8 - Sullivan & Marks graphics demo reel

This one is more modern, from 2008.
https://youtu.be/50BBNZ-ejjU?list=LL - Justice - DVNO (The first three seconds)

I asked in another forum (DigitalFAQ) to which they told me it could be different tools being used. To which they specified that it could be:

Scanimate
Backlit Animation
Amiga Video Toaster 4000

Im not too sure on the Toaster 4000 since I couldn't find any examples with that specific effect, unlike Scanimate or using Backlit Animation. With that being said, my main question is how in the world was the effect achieved??? I want to know how it was done back then so that I could replicate it today using modern software. I even asked on Reddit and they ended up saying that I could use different glows and blurs to achieve the shine but I want to know how they got the motion. More specifically, what did they do to make the light behave like that on the text? Is it a specific pattern in the case of backlit animation? Is it a mathematical equation? What steps are needed to achieve that effect? I have tried and tried many times to search on Google but I have not found no tutorial whether article or video that explains this specific effect. I feel like there is a way to do it since they did it with that 2008 music video ( Justice - DVNO). I hope to find the answer to my question or get reffered to someone who may know about these kinds of effects. Thank you so much for reading, I hope I made enough sense haha.  :D
 

Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2024, 02:59:28 pm »
Don't forget Quantel
Hoarder of 8-bit Commodore relics and 1960s Tektronix 500-series stuff. Unconventional interior decorator.
 
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Offline BrianHG

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2024, 03:03:14 pm »
The VideoToater 4000 had real-time playback of any rendered scenes.  IE: if you can 3D model the text effect in LightWave, Video Toaster 3D editor, it can create the effect.  We were already beyond those cheesy neon glowing edge traced text effects.

See the text in this promo ad at 2:35 (wow) and at 2:40 (sale), maybe 3:55.



If you want that glowing border text, you would model it in Toaster's LightWave, or find someone who already made a script to onscreen model any font & text you choose.  Render the animation to your HD, then blend the animation with any video inputs you may have coming into the Toaster video IO.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2024, 03:07:11 pm by BrianHG »
 

Offline babysitter

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2024, 04:51:45 pm »
My first thought after your text description was also "Scanimate". So +1 for that.
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Offline EPAIII

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2024, 01:34:57 pm »
I worked in TV starting in the 60s. Believe it or not, back in the 80s and 90s we did have computers. And some of them were used to create digital effects that, today may be totally routine even on my puny PC.

The examples you show are all from people with DEEP POCKETS. People who could afford the expense, most the cost of the processing/rendering back in those days. Something that happens in real time on the average phone today may have taken hours or even days to render. It was not unusual for the artists to work on something for hours during the day and leave the rendering running overnight. They would not see it until the next day. And the equipment they worked with cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars. So only those people with DEEP POCKETS, like the major networks or companies could afford it or to hire a company that did have it.

So the answer to how they did it was much like it is done today, except it took a LOT longer and cost a LOT more.

If you go back even further, then the computers were not there for things like this. Digital video just did not exist: it was all analog film and video tape. But the film people used a variety of techniques, often involving many different "prints" or "negatives" of a single scene. The scene could be printed with multiple exposures using those different "prints" or "negatives" along with different light sources and filters. I even personally had "star" filters and soft filters (lady's stockings) for my 35mm and other cameras. But they were just the tip of the special effects iceberg. Rotating wheels with slits could bathe different parts of a negative with changing light patterns. Color filters could be added. Diffraction filters. Prism filters. High contrast negatives of slightly different magnifications could provide an outline. The list is almost endless. Again, the biggest limitations were imagination and dollars. And the movie people had both.
Paul A.  -   SE Texas
And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
You will find that it has discrete steps.
 

Offline Glitchy Windows 3.1Topic starter

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2024, 08:23:29 pm »
But the film people used a variety of techniques, often involving many different "prints" or "negatives" of a single scene. The scene could be printed with multiple exposures using those different "prints" or "negatives" along with different light sources and filters. I even personally had "star" filters and soft filters (lady's stockings) for my 35mm and other cameras. But they were just the tip of the special effects iceberg. Rotating wheels with slits could bathe different parts of a negative with changing light patterns. Color filters could be added. Diffraction filters. Prism filters. High contrast negatives of slightly different magnifications could provide an outline. The list is almost endless. Again, the biggest limitations were imagination and dollars. And the movie people had both.

Wow! That is very interesting, would you happen to have more information on the use of negatives with slits and light sources in creating the outline? Like how did the lights move or were they stationary. To add on that, what component was the one that moved? The slit or the lights? What is a simple horizontal movement? Or was it rotation as well? If the lights were the ones that moved, what motions would it do? Would each letter have its own light source or was it one light source for the whole text/object? You mentioned the use of prisms and filters, were there anything in-between the slit and the lights? Sorry if I'm asking to many questions but there is no information which you have just mentioned on the internet. If you do know or have an idea on how they did it exactly or even have a diagram, it would mean the world to me.  ;D
 

Offline EPAIII

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2024, 08:37:26 am »
Although I worked in the TV industry, I did not personally use most of the techniques that I mentioned. I did hear about them to various degrees and put the pieces together in my mind. At the time I was intensely interested in the techniques but was also immersed in the day-to-day job of keeping TV stations on the air and operating. I will try to show one way that those moving highlights around the border of an object may have been created.

Lets start with a single letter. It is drawn with a black border and has a fill color or pattern. There is also a background color. But the border of the letter is the only thing that is black.

An apparatus is used to expose the film, probably 35mm or even 70 mm. This apparatus has provision for very exact registry using an image plane where a large format (8" x 10" or even larger) positive or negative of the letter can be placed. It will have provision for illumination of various types.

A first exposure of the film is made with just the basic, unaltered image of the letter.

One or more 1::1, high contrast negatives of that letter are made. The areas with colors become completely black and the black area surrounding the letter becomes completely clear. Light can only pass through the border of the letter, no where else. Some hand touch-ups may be needed for any areas that do not become solid black, but that is an easy and routine task in any photo studio.

A negative is placed in the image plane

The film is rewound and a second exposure is made with additional effects added to the light source. One such effect could be filter holders which rotate using small motors. A filter which is all black except for one slit could be placed between the light source and the negative to illuminate only one portion of the clear border area of the negative at a time. The motor would rotate the slit at whatever rate is chosen for the bright spot to move around as wanted.

A second, star filter could be added to that rotating slit or it could be placed on a second rotating filter holder. The two rotations could be in sync (there were synchronous motors available) or it could be at a second rate if that is desired. So the points of the star effect could rotate in sync with the spot that is illuminated or could rotate faster or slower.

A variable density filter could be added to have the light more intense at one area of the letter's outline and less intense or even absent at another. This variable intensity filter could either be still or it too could move or rotate. Color filters which are either still or moving could be added.

If several objects are in the frame and each one needs the same or even different effects, they could be either added to film with additional exposures or they could be on the one negative with separate projector-like light sources, each with it's own set of stationary and moving filters and each striking only one area of the main negative. With projection style light sources, it would be possible to use masks that shape the pattern of the light so it could follow a given feature (the curved top of a letter like R might be an example) only partially around that feature/letter.

The film may be rewound and exposed to many different effects before it is finally developed. Multiple "takes" might be necessary before one of them is acceptable. The process could take days of work for a 10 or 15 second long effect. That's why you only see examples of these techniques in productions that had "deep pockets" financing.

Complete details on this type of special effect are difficult to find. While the type of camera system that I describe was probably commercially available, I am sure there were many custom made modifications and additions. A special effects artist of that era was either a machinist himself or routinely used machine shops to construct the needed devices. None of these additional items would have a make and model number or could be found in any catalog. They were one of a kind results of individual imagination.

This is my take on just ONE WAY in which it was done. I am sure there were others. There were special effects artists/studios in Hollywood and other places who each had there own equipment and techniques. And I am sure I have made omissions or mistakes in the one process that I tried to describe. I welcome any corrections from anyone with better knowledge or experience.

As for your list of specific questions, I am sure that all of the alternatives you list could have and probably were used. As I said, there was a lot of individual creation in this game. And there were trade secrets that were not made known because the artist/studio put a lot of time and money into their development and they wanted to reap the financial rewards. The trade secret thing is probably why it is difficult to find detailed information on this subject. The people doing it did not want it to be known.

One thing I can say with absolute assurance is that the arrival of affordable digital effects systems was a very welcome thing in the movie and TV industries. I watched a number of these come and go over the years and each one was worlds better than the previous one. And often less expensive as well. Today I can do things with my computers and even my cell phone that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions back them.



But the film people used a variety of techniques, often involving many different "prints" or "negatives" of a single scene. The scene could be printed with multiple exposures using those different "prints" or "negatives" along with different light sources and filters. I even personally had "star" filters and soft filters (lady's stockings) for my 35mm and other cameras. But they were just the tip of the special effects iceberg. Rotating wheels with slits could bathe different parts of a negative with changing light patterns. Color filters could be added. Diffraction filters. Prism filters. High contrast negatives of slightly different magnifications could provide an outline. The list is almost endless. Again, the biggest limitations were imagination and dollars. And the movie people had both.

Wow! That is very interesting, would you happen to have more information on the use of negatives with slits and light sources in creating the outline? Like how did the lights move or were they stationary. To add on that, what component was the one that moved? The slit or the lights? What is a simple horizontal movement? Or was it rotation as well? If the lights were the ones that moved, what motions would it do? Would each letter have its own light source or was it one light source for the whole text/object? You mentioned the use of prisms and filters, were there anything in-between the slit and the lights? Sorry if I'm asking to many questions but there is no information which you have just mentioned on the internet. If you do know or have an idea on how they did it exactly or even have a diagram, it would mean the world to me.  ;D
« Last Edit: May 20, 2024, 09:01:19 am by EPAIII »
Paul A.  -   SE Texas
And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
You will find that it has discrete steps.
 
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Offline Siwastaja

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Re: Desprate to figure out a special video effect from the 80s - 90s.
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2024, 09:20:05 am »
Many of those are not video effects, but film; completely optical trickery, no video processing (analog or digital) involved. As such, you might also want to dive into the rabbit hole of pre-computer era special effect and animation industries.

Then again, some starting in 1980's (especially near the end of the decade) would be computerized versions of the classical film/animation effects. From a poor quality videotape source, you might not instantly recognize the difference.

Animation tricks could be surprisingly simple; for example, first shoot the letter artwork on film. Then rewind the film, and double-expose on the same film frames a mask made in ink, with the same outline as the letter artwork, just shine light from behind the mask, moving the light source while the film rolls.

Those who did professional effect work, of course had all kind of stepper or synchronous motor controlled trick shooting stations, where they can move around animation cels (large celluloid sheets), masks, light sources, etc., shooting sequences where film is exposed frame by frame, moving things around in repeatable motor sequences. Before computers had power to generate graphics, they had plenty of power to control this kind of machinery.

I think this would be an interesting resource for you:
http://sparetimelabs.com/animato/animato/stand/stand.html#mplane
« Last Edit: May 21, 2024, 09:36:47 am by Siwastaja »
 
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