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I find that ProQuest is a great resource for finding primary sources on a variety of historical topics. ProQuest is a database that archives newspapers from 1800 to the present. I am quite familiar with ProQuest because I have used it in the past for research in other classes. ProQuest makes it possible to search for past news article to gain insight on how the world reacted to various events at the time it happened. It is also a great way to analyze how events turned out and become a part of our history today. The events I searched for using ProQuest were the Gulf of Sidra Incidents (which occurred in 1981 and 1989), where US Navy F-14 Tomcats shot down Libyan (Soviet-built) fighter jets in defense. Even though I was able to find informative articles for the incidents in ’81 and ’89, I noticed some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to using ProQuest to search for topics of the past.

The advantage of using ProQuest, when I searched for articles for the Gulf of Sidra incidents, was the ability to use numerous sources to find different kinds of information. Not only can you search using a variety of words and phrases, but you can now narrow or expand your search by searching for things other than articles. For example, ProQuest now allows you to search for editorials, letters, reviews, still photos, and even political comics. I personally enjoyed searching for news print advertisements featuring the F-14 Tomcat, some of which dating back to 1977. Being able to see these ads when the F-14 was first produced gives me an idea of how events played in history. If there were no ads in support of the F-14, the Gulf of Sidra incidents would have had a very different outcome (or not happen all together).

I then noticed a couple of disadvantages when it came to researching articles on the incidents. One disadvantage was that I could not view or download articles containing photographs. The photographs were likely removed due to copyright. I also noticed that noticed that the front pages of newspapers were displayed in B&W and not in color. I felt that, as it was said in class last week, that the photo-less and colorless articles lost their authenticity through digitization, as their actual paper counterparts would not be missing the qualities that made it what it was. Another disadvantage I noticed was that ProQuest was not as diverse as it could be. I found that all the newspapers were in the American perspective, from our major cities (LA, DC, NY, etc…). It would be interesting for ProQuest were to expand and access papers from smaller cities and towns (like Baltimore) to gain a different view on the Gulf of Sidra incidents. It would also be helpful it could access foreign papers for other views, since the incidents took place in a foreign country (in this case, Libya).

So, despite some disadvantages, ProQuest is a valuable source for obtaining primary newspaper sources, depicting our country past and how it happened.

Vannevar Bush’s article, As We May Think (1), argues that science should help produce technology for the progress of mankind and not for the destruction of it. He envisioned that such technology would become widely available and very useful to humans in the future. Even the technology he described in his article resembles the technology we have today, like:

– Polaroid or digital camera

– Copier

– Voice recorder or speech synthesizer (one of the first being the VODER)(2)

– Computers

– The Internet

Despite the resemblance, I found that the technology he mentioned in his article was useful to humans in different ways. The technology he mentioned could either assist humans in their work or replace the work humans used to do.

 

Technology to Assist Humans

Bush had ideas of how technology could be used to assist humans in their work. One technology he envisioned that could be used to aid in research is the Memex. According to Bush the Memex was:

 

A device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and … is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. (1)

 

The Memex was basically an electronic library, containing full articles, books, encyclopedias, newspapers, photos, and other media. Not only could the Memex aid in researching a variety of topics, it could enable the user to connect to other sources related to the topic. Interestingly, I found that the Memex was strikingly similar to today’s Internet and how it is used for research. The internet has the same resources like the Memex, including video, sounds, and websites, and has become a valuable resource in man’s quest for knowledge.

 

Technology to Replace Humans

Bush then formulated ideas of how technology could be used to replace the work that is done by hand. He mentioned how a device could be created using the process of sorting and selection. Bush explained by writing:

This process, however, is simple selection: it proceeds by examining in turn every one of a large set of items, and by picking out those which have certain specified characteristics. (1)

Document filing is a good example for the use of such a device. Bush mentioned that work could be done quickly and efficiently when this device, which may function similar to today’s computers, is put into use.

So humans can take files from a file cabinet…

(3)

 

…and put them on a device like today’s computer…

(4)

 

…where they can quickly store, file, sort, and display documents, cutting out most of the work that was once done by hand.

Basically:

1)      No paper folders and file cabinets

2)      No file clerks or secretaries to go through file cabinets

3)      Paper documents can be transferred into a digital entity, or file

4)      Technology, like today’s computer, can store such files in a file system where it can be sorted and selected at any given time

I don’t know if Bush ever saw ideas on future technology to assist or replace humans in the day-to-day work come to fruition, but such ideas and the technology built on these ideas did become quite useful to humans and helped mankind make progress.

——

(1) Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic, July 1945. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/?single_page=true

(2) VintageCG. VODER (1939) – Early Speech Synthesizer. Online Video. 44 secs. 4 Apr 2011.

(3) http://homefront.homestead.com/

(4) http://bestclipartblog.com/26-computer-clip-art.html/computer-clipart-4

I never thought of the Internet as being an invention of the Cold War. The Cold War has given the world many things, from microwaves to space flight, but I find the Internet to be one of the great things that impacted lives around the world. Originally used by governments and universities to share information (1), the Internet has since opened up to the general public and is now used in their everyday lives. I started to wonder, since the Internet has become such an intricate part of our lives today, what would happen if the Internet were to shutdown? What will people lose if they lost  access to the Internet?

People around the world depend on the Internet for many aspects of their lives. One aspect is national security. Without the Internet, the militaries of the world will not be able to function at their optimal level, which can put nations in great security risk. Militaries may use the internet to send out and receive important instructions, to plan and direct operations, or even control weapons. Another aspect is the economy. The world’s economies would suffer greatly with the lack of e-businesses (or e-commerce). There are companies throughout the world that depend on the Internet to conduct business. Companies such as Amazon and eBay practically won’t function (or exist) without the Internet to promote their products or to carry out transactions. One more aspect is social networking. Not only will people lose track of their peer groups, events, and families, but they will also lose the opportunity learn new information. Social networking has helped bring people access to news and information on job opportunities, education, health, and the environment. People will not be able to share and discuss current issues or be able to collaborate and solve problems at the speed and efficiency the Internet the can provide.

Out of all the things the Cold War has brought us, I find the Internet made the biggest impact on our world and how we live in it today. With the Internet, people around the world have access to knowledge and services not available to them years before. The Internet has help made the world what it is today and should not be taken for granted.

—–

(1) Picolsigns. History of the Internet. Melih Bilgil. Online Video. 8 mins 10 secs. 4  Jan 2009.

Even though abstract animations like Quest (1) are just as entertaining as today’s movies, I found that animations with basic, simple features can also be enjoyable to watch. A good example of this kind of animation is High Fidelity (1982) (2). High Fidelity is entertaining through its simplicity. The simple designs and characters, the movements of these characters, and the story make High Fidelity one of the most unique early 3D animations.

 

The world and characters of High Fidelity are made of basic geometric shapes, just as in Quest, but the basic shapes create concrete rather than abstract structures. One can tell who and what a character is by the placement of the shapes. For example, there is male character because he has on a bowtie, and a female character because she is wearing a “hat”. It is also easy to tell what a character does. The man is a photographer and the woman, who holds parasols, is probably a dancer.

The simple movements of the characters should also be noted. The characters themselves are in perpetual motion, as each part of their body moves in a certain direction. The perpetual motion of their bodies helps make than look alive, as the motion of the structures in Quest.

Lastly, High Fidelity’s simple story is quite enjoyable. As I interpret it, the photographer admires the dancer, and likes her so much, that he takes pictures of her dog.  Later on, the photographer sees the dancer on television. No longer able to stand it, the photographer floats over to see her, where they fall in love (and live happily ever after).

Though simple in design, characters, and story, High Fidelity is very unique and entertaining. Its simplicity helps make it one of the most unique 3D animations of the 1980s and likely became an inspiration for today’s movies.

 

———

(1) VintageCG.  Quest (1985). Online Video. 3 mins 23 secs. 16 Aug 2009.

(2) Tringri. High Fidelity (1982). Online Video. 1 min 46 secs. 14 May 2009.

I felt the need to off-shoot from Coraline Meena’s blog on animation in television commercials (1). I have always found that the animation in television commercials are superb and eye-catching. One animated commercial series that always caught my eye was the Raid commercials. The Raid commercials have practically been animated since the product was introduced and has gone through many changes as the animation industry grew. The Raid commercials changed as the animation industry and its  technology improved. I will point out some examples of changes, but let’s first look at one of the first animated Raid commercials:

 

1956 (2):

This commercial was like many other Cold War era cartoons as it had a simple, square character design that was popular at that time. The commercial also followed the “limited animation” technique that was becoming the industry standard. The bugs were animated to have simple movements and they moved and looked stiff in many instances.

 

1969 (3):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_0–PQqytU&feature=related

As animation became more common on television screens, the Raid commercials once again conformed to styles and techniques that were popular at that time. The bugs in this commercial were animated with more detail and had a more rounded shape. The bugs were also quite comical in comparison to the bugs from ’56, whom just ran and screamed in fear. This commercial has a lot in common with the one from ’56, except that it has background music and is in color.

 

1988 (4):

Now in the age of computers, animation improved dramatically as far as special effects are concerned. This Raid commercial has very detailed, fluid animation. The bugs are very vicious looking in comparison to the bugs from ’69 and ’56. A big difference in this commercial is the special effects, as in the laser beams shot by the (very calm and professional) Raid Muscleman. The laser beams are, without a doubt, generated by computers and adds a great touch to the commercial.

I find that the animated Raid commercials will continue to improve as the animation industry and technology grows. Actually, improvements can be seen today, as the Raid commercials from 2001 and 2010 take animation to the limit. Even though the Raid Muscleman is not present, the bugs are animated in the real world and this was likely achieved by animating and coloring in an all digital process.

————

(1) Meena, Caroline, “Animation in Advertising”, Histofanimation (blog), 6 May 2012 (9:29 am)

(2) MiscVideos78rpm. Raid Commercial (1956). Online Video. 1 min 1 sec. 16 July 2010

(3) Genius7277. 1969 Raid “Biker bugs” Commercial. Online Video. 44 secs. 19 May 2010

(4) RetroWinnipeg. Raid Commerical (1988). Online Video. 31 secs. 2 Oct 2010.

It can be easy to believe that today’s 3D animated features are breaking the barriers of animation and theater entertainment. But if it wasn’t for the experimentation and creations of the 3D animations of the late 1980s, today’s animations wouldn’t be a good as they are now. 3D animations of the late 1980s were breaking barriers in a variety of ways that have lead to the great films of today. I have found two animations from the late 1980s that reflect this notion literally in their stories.

 

The first animation is called “Stanley & Stella in Breaking the Ice”(1), featuring a eagle named Stanley and a fish named Stella, who break the physical barrier that separates them in order to be together. The animation starts with an overview of the two different environments (the sky and the sea) containing two different animals (birds and fish). Stanley and Stella, who fall in love with each other, live in these different environments, separated by glass/ ice barrier. When their love became stronger, Stanley decides to fly high and break the barrier in order to be with Stella.

 

The second animation has its protagonist and its sidekick break a different kind of barrier. “Locomotion” (2) is the story of a train, called Engine No. 9, and its caboose who are stopped in their tracks (literally!) by a break in the railroad. No. 9 wants to go on but the caboose discourages it. But the break in the tracks and the caboose’s decision are not the barriers that No. 9 has to overcome. The barrier is his fear. No. 9 fears of being late and having to accept the fate of being sent to the scrape yard for his incompetence. After thinking about this, No. 9 makes its own decision to overcome this barrier. No. 9 ingeniously uses the good side of the track to go over the break.

Even though the characters in these animations are breaking their own barriers, it reflects how 3D animation in general was breaking barriers at this time, making way for it future in theatrical entertainment.

———-

(1) Vintage CG. Stanley & Stella in Breaking the Ice (1987). Online Video. 2 mins 2 secs. 24 Aug 2009.

(2) Vintage CG. Locomotion (1989)- Pacific Data Images. Online Video. 3 mins 57 secs. 25 Aug 2009.

Today’s 3D animated movies are fun and entertaining due to their characters and stories. The worlds in these movies are designed with care, the characters are enjoyable and the stories are not too complex. It is interesting to know that the 3D animation of today came from the abstract 3D animations of the 1980s. Many early animations were experimental and abstract, testing the limits of computer technology, but it didn’t mean they were not enjoyable to watch. An animation can take on very abstract forms and still be entertaining. Abstract designs, characters, and stories, if implemented properly, are just as fun and entertaining as their detailed, two hour counterparts.

A good example of this kind of animation is Quest (1986) (1):

 

To start, the world of Quest was designed with basic 3D geometric shapes. They mostly consisted of spheres, cubes, cylinders, cones. The geometric shapes are simple by themselves, but when put together, they seem to form concrete, yet abstract, structures. There are also various moving pillars and fountains. Pretty much everything moves in the World of Quest, making it look very alive and not static.

Another feature that added to the abstractness of Quest was the various reflective surfaces. Reflections can be seen almost everywhere, like in the water and on the surfaces of some structure. The reflections on the bouncing spheres are particularly interesting as they show the world upside down. The reflections don’t just act like a mirror to the world, but also create an illusion as to how big the world is.

The protagonist itself has an abstract appeal. It consists of four ellipses and has the ability to change into different positions. It (or he… or she) doesn’t look like much, but proves to be very versatile in this abstract world. The protagonist has the ability to swim like a shark, hover like a helicopter, and travel like a bicycle.

Though the story of Quest is probably the most concrete thing in the animation, the ending is quite abstract. The purpose of the protagonist is to search for and acquire a cube, sphere and prism, and then transform into this colorful super-being. It is not made clear in the ending as to what the colorful super-being is and what it is suppose to do. Though I believe the ending is left for the audience to interpret, it is neat to see the colorful super-being turn into the logo of Apollo, the company who created the animation.

Even though the design, the character, and the story’s ending are quite abstract, Quest is still very entertaining to watch and shows how much quality and care was put into it, just like the 3D animated films of today.

————

(1) VintageCG.  Quest (1985). Online Video. 3 mins 23 secs. 16 Aug 2009.

Relationships are made everyday in the real-world and hold a special meaning for every individual. All relationships are different, as some turn out good and some run into troubles. But all relationships have their ups and downs. Relationships are so important in our lives, they are even reflected in the entertainment world, especially in animation. I have found two early 3D animations that reflect real-world relationships and the problems that may come with them. Though the animations were made at different times with different creators, their characters go through similar relationship problems. Both animations have  female characters who pays no attention to the male, have the male characters use an object to help get closer to the female, and have unexpected endings for the male characters.

 

The animations are Fair Play (1986) (1):

And Snoot and Muttly (1984) (2):

 

To start, both animations have a couple where the female “plays hard to get”.  In Fair Play, the man is always out of reach of the woman. Everytime the man tries to reach her, she ends up in a different location from him. They are only together when they go on the roller coaster ride. The woman also seemed to intentionally hide from the man, especially in the hall of mirrors. A similar instance happens in Snoot and Muttly. Snoot (assumingly the pink flamingo) doesn’t necessarily stay out of reach of Muttly (assumingly the blue flamingo), but she does ignore him. For example, when Muttly walks up to Snoot as if to say hello, Snoot turns her nose up at him.

Another similarity is the presence of balloons or balloon-like objects that help the male characters get closer to the female characters. In Fair Play, when the man gets lost in the hall of mirrors, the woman’s red balloon guides him to her, where they then ride together on the roller coaster. In Snoot and Muttly, Muttly uses balloon-like objects to skip around and entice Snoot to come play with him.

One more similarity between the animations is the unexpected endings for the male characters. The man in Fair Play, after all the trouble he went through, finally has the woman in reach and gives her a kiss. One would think that they would finally stay together, but after the woman’s red balloon covers the screen, the woman disappears, leaving the man bewildered and surely heartbroken. The opposite happens in Snoot and Muttly. At first it looks like Snoot will continually ignore Muttly’s attempts for her to play with him. Snoot walks into her house as if she will not come out. But at the last moment, Snoot comes out with a hat on and decides to join Muttly in playing with the balloon-like objects.

So, the ups and downs of relationships are reflected in these animations. Just as a person can learn from a real-world relationship, one can also learn from these animations and gain another perspective on relationships.

 

——————-

(1) cc213t. Fair Play. Online Video. 2 mins 2 secs. 28 Jan 2007.

(2) VintageCG. Snoot and Muttly (1984). Online Video. 3 mins 15 secs. 11 Aug 2009.

The United States entered World War II after being attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 by the Japanese.  The earlier peace propaganda, used to encourage Americans to avoid war, was changed to war propaganda, calling for support of the war to defeat the Axis Powers. To support America’s war effort, MGM created another propaganda cartoon called Blitz Wolf (1). It was released in 1942 and directed by Tex Avery, who was known at the time for his hilarious gag cartoons.  Though the cartoons main purpose is to encourage America support of the war effort, the cartoon also goes great lengths to make fun of the axis powers, especially Adolf Hitler, and to show that they are weak and will not obtain victory. Blitz Wolf was propaganda that encouraged the support of the war effort to bring victory to the allied powers and show the weaknesses of Adolf Hitler and the axis powers.

 

 

First, Blitz Wolf encouraged the support of the war effort through the familiar story of “The Little Pigs”. As it is traditionally told, the first and second little pigs built their houses of straw and sticks respectively. But in this story, the third little pig, dubbed “the smart little pig”, built his house of steel, guns, and barbed wire. The smart little pig and his home became the message as to what America should do when preparing to confront Hitler (the Big Bad Wolf in the toon) and his forces. Increasing America’s defenses would not only protect her from harm, but will ensure victory and show how weak Hitler really is.

Next, the cartoon depicts Hitler not only as a wolf trying to get the little pigs, but as an over-confident dictator who is actually weak technologically, militarily, and psychologically. The cartoon shows Hitler cowering away from American fire and air power, along with his weapons being easily destroyed by them. He is also someone who cannot be trusted, as he is shown going against the treaty of the little pigs by blowing their houses down (and with a mechanized huffer und puffer too!). Hitler is depicted as someone who is not as powerful as he seems. His weapons and ideological only make him weaker, showing that victory to America and the allied powers will be faster with support.

Then, unlike Peace on Earth’s dismal and non-victorious look at war, Blitz Wolf shows war as exciting, fast-paced, and with the right weapons, crippling to enemy forces. The cartoon promoted that victory can also be had through the purchase of war bonds to support the effort. The cartoon makes a couple of references to war bonds for supporting the war. War bonds could be used to provide all sorts of weapons and aid to American and allied forces. So, encouraging Americans to buy war bonds would let them feel they are doing a good thing by supporting the war and ensuring America’s victory against Hitler.

Blitz Wolf totes the message that America can win with public support. The more American audiences understand that Hitler is weak and has no chance of victory, the more likely that the allied forces will succeed.

—-

(1) MBmovie1234. The Blitz Wolf (MGM stuidios,  1942). Online video. 9 mins 50 secs. 21 Jan 2011.

World War II is still considered to be one of the greatest wars ever fought. It was a war in which multiple countries participated in, where new weapons were used, and was a war that was supported by the public. But before the United States’ entry into the war, her government released propaganda, information or ideas created to shift one’s opinion on a subject (1), to encourage the American people that war should not be fought. Propaganda can be made using any form of media, like the cartoons that were played in theaters. A good example was a cartoon released by MGM in 1939. Peace on Earth (2), directed by Hugh Harman, was a peace propaganda cartoon that pushed the idea that the war, which will be known in history as WWII, should be resolved in a peaceful matter and not through violence. Peace on Earth was propaganda that encouraged the avoidance of war and gave audiences at look at the consequences of war.

 

 

To start, the story for Peace on Earth was told through the memories of Grandpa Squirrel when he tells a story to his grandkids about the last man on Earth. He tells his grandkids that men were “like monsters” who wore “iron pots on their heads” and carried “shoot’n irons” or guns everywhere. Grandpa Squirrel explained to them that men “were always a fight’n, a feud’n, and a shoot’n one another”.  He explained that men fought over everything, even the simplest of things, until there were only two left who kill each other. To the American audience, the cartoon is saying that men should not act like monsters and hurt each other because of their differences. War should be avoided and a peaceful solution should be sought to save men from needless suffering and death.

As Grandpa Squirrel tells his story, the cartoon continually fades from his warm, cozy home to the dark, loud, and destructive world of men at war. The war scenes are dark and cloudy with the sounds of guns firing and bombs falling. The explosions, while big and colorful, are also blinding and deadly. Grandpa Squirrel even goes so far as to reenact a man firing a machine gun, scaring his grandkids. The war scenes Grandpa Squirrel described would have shown American audiences that was is scary and deadly, and that  it is imperative to avoid war for the sake of peace.

Grandpa Squirrel then describes the aftermath of the war where the last man died. No building was left standing and only the animals survived. The animals were able to rebuild and live prosperous lives, but man became a distant memory. The cartoon is now pushing American audiences to think of the consequences of war. If no men are left in the world because of war, who will be there to start things anew? Also why have war, destruction, and death if there are other ways to settle disputes and bring peace?

As propaganda, Peace on Earth created a strong image and message of what war can do and the importance of avoiding it. Peace propaganda like this could have help America stay clear from war, but this changed two years later when America is attacked and joins the war effort to dispose of enemies from afar.

———

(1)- Propaganda. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/propaganda (accessed: April 10, 2012).

(2)- Vambo23. Peace on Earth. Classic Christmas Cartoon. MGM. 1939. Online video. 8mins 46 secs. 1 Dec 2009.

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