iPad Light Animation by BERG

Interface designers BERG used iPads to create an ingenious experiment that combines the device with photography and animation. After building CG models of a typeface, they rendered a sequence of cross sections of the letters–think David Daniels’ strata-cut animation technique adapted to CG. Now, the strata-cut technique wouldn’t typically work in CGI because the calculated precision of the computer disallows spontaneity, but BERG solved that by playing back the sequences on the iPad while dragging it through space to extrude the animation into physical space. Each frame of the film, which is subject to the effects of natural human movement, is a long photographic exposure of three to six seconds. There’s more information about its making on BERG’s blog and behind-the-scenes photos are posted on Flickr.

More than anything, this experiment by BERG is a fine example of environmental animation that breaks the confines of animation’s traditionally flat and square image frame. It points to a day that is not too far off when animation will play a vital role in the real world. Imagine being in an office lobby, and depending on where you’re standing in the lobby, you’d see a different kind of animation superimposed over the physical space to guide you around. Animation need not be restricted to a passive filmic experience, and interacting with animation in our everday lives is within reach as BERG has so cleverly hinted at in this piece.

(Thanks, Dave Follett)


  • http://www.tubbirdbelty.com Barbara

    Human beings are so clever

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    Wow, that’s very clever.

  • http://www.sneezemeaway.com Ryan G

    This is fantastic! Thank you for highlighting some amazing new ways to animate.

  • The Dude

    Far out!

  • http://www.enigmation.de slowtiger

    As nice as some of the images are, I really doubt any of those “you’ll interact with animation soon” claims. I’ve seen interactive art for 30 yrs now and worked in interactive media for 15, and I’ve never seen any of these interfaces being in wide use in real life. Even more, I’ve never heard about something useful being done with this, aside from placing advertisements everywhere.

    • Peter H

      I agree – this is a film – a film where each frame has been created by moving an animating image through physical dimensions. The technique is really ingenious and interesting – but the analogy to David Daniels’ “strata-cut” technique is apt: the result is only a flat animated film, that depicts animation in a real environment. It does not move technology (hologram projection) any further forward.

  • http://www.moontowervfx.com Ray

    Amazing! It’s always inspiring to see people thinking so progressively.

  • Katie Cropper

    How fantastically elegant!

  • Sean D

    While this is a cool and well executed idea, it is still plain ol’ “flat-n’-square image frame” animation. This could not exist if it weren’t for long exposure photography, repeated over many frames to form the stop motion animation that you see. In other words, skill, people, and time are necessary to create what you see here. What you’re describing can already be done with lasers, and is achieved in much the same way that the folks at BERG are doing here (I remember a 3D flying bird animation over the audience at a Neil Diamond concert in the 80s, made with lasers and fog).

    If you want to see some really cool uses of interactive environmental animation, take a trip to a Siggraph… Stuff like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfmSJQuhlk4) has been around for a while, and continues to improve by leaps and bounds every year.

  • JW

    Didn’t Picasso do this 50 years ago with a light bulb?

  • http://platynews.deviantart.com Platy

    Awesome idea, but lacking execution … i was expecting WAY more than … floating words =P

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Apple money well-spent. The right people will be impressed -
    young folks who don’t know the history of such efforts by
    Norman McLaren and many others. They will buy an iGadget
    sooner or later. It will make them geniuses, or fail to do
    so. It doesn’t matter once the product has been purchased.

  • http://somethingsavage.com dan

    I am actually filling a hotel lobby / bar with animations as we speak. i will be sure to email it to cartoon brew when we complete it, or email me if you have any questions about such a thing :)

  • Tim Douglas

    I’ve been struggling to find the right vocabulary…

    Just. So. Much. WOW!