Apple technology used in 'Waking Life' animated film

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Apple technology was used to help make the new, animated film, "Waking Life," according to an Apple Hot News story by Nancy Eaton.

"Waking Life," by independent filmmaker Richard Linklater, concerns a young man stuck in a surrealistic dream state and his intellectual journey as he's thrust into a series of encounters with assorted quirky characters.

The technology Linklater used to make his film is a form of Mac-based computer animation. Plus, the use of Apple technology from pre- to post-production allowed him to make the first-ever independent feature-length animated movie for the same cost as a typical independent film, according to Apple.

Using software (dubbed "Rotoshop") developed by Austin filmmaker Bob Sabiston, artists trace images directly onto live-action QuickTime video using a Wacom tablet. Linklater collaborated with Sabiston and Tommy Pallotta, Sabiston's partner, at their Austin animation company FlatBlack Films, to make "Waking Life."

"I liked the way Bob's software and the animation sort of put your mind in a place, kind of at that imaginative level where you're looking at something real, but yet it's an artistic construct," Linklater told Apple. "It's sort of a realistic film of an unreality, and it works in the brain that way."

The film's unique look is the result of the work of 30 different artists who used Sabiston's software to draw their own artistic visions over each of the film's vignettes. Using a large number of artists was necessary from a purely practical standpoint, since each second of the 90-minute film took an average of 250 person-hours to produce.

One of the features Sabiston built in to the application was interpolation, which meant that the artists didn't need to draw as many individual frames as they would have using traditional animation techniques, Apple Hot News article explains. The software automatically fills in the transitions between the images.

Even with all the artists involved and the complexity of the project, "Waking Life" was produced on a fairly typical independent film budget. According to producer Tommy Pallotta, the costs were kept in check by shooting on digital video, animating with Sabiston's software, and editing with Apple's Final Cut Pro on Power Mac computers.

"We bought a couple of consumer-level cameras -- Sony TRV900s and one PC-1," Pallotta told Apple. "These are cameras that a lot of people have in their homes. For the editing, I was determined to use Final Cut Pro because I thought it was so great that you could be sitting at your house editing on a regular computer. Final Cut Pro was also specifically made for digital video, and I wanted to support the whole DV format. I didn't want to shoot digitally, and then go from digital into analog. Once we logged the picture, we converted it into QuickTime, and imported the QuickTime into Bob's software. It was also about the elegant idea of keeping everything in the Apple format, to shoot, edit and animate the film using one computer."

According to Linklater, even film critics took notice about the way the movie was made, including the accessibility of the technology.

This story, "Apple technology used in 'Waking Life' animated film" was originally published by PCWorld.

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