This Viceland video is an amazing glimpse at broadcast television graphics from a time when math and computer science ruled the on-air design playbook.
The most fascinating part is that even though it is a digital computer, the analog process of changing the waveforms by moving around a set of wires has absolutely no tactile or visual feedback. In addition, the output didn't go directly on-air. A camera pointed at the Scanimate's output screen would capture the results for future use on-air.
At the time, eight Scanimate analog computers produced almost all of the electronic animated effects for television.
It reminded me of this post from This is Colossal about a time before computers where 3D models, mirrors and cameras on dollies were used to create on-air logo treatments.
Where these 3D models and MGM Lions could take on a variety of styles and looks, the Scanimate has a definite look and feel. With all of today's computing power and desire for retro throwbacks, I wonder why the Scanimate look hasn't made a comeback. Is it that today's computers can't replicate some of the analog effects?
All of this reminds us that no matter how much computing power or AI we put behind it, design will always require our hands, our minds, and some sort of analog support to bring the ideas to life.
Viceland video via Quipsologies