Early Light

DVD Video Animation

Limited Edition Prints


Early Light continues the light series begun with Nocturn. This time we are following the early part of the day from sunrise to noon as well as the end of Winter thru Spring. Early Light was a little more ambitious for me as I wanted something longer and more structured. This piece is also a little more directly personal as I followed memories of growing up in Ohio and watching the Spring emerge from under the long Winter. There always seemed to be distinct phases in the progression of a midwestern spring that were easily translated into scenes.

The manuscript concept is very intertwined in this piece. Each step toward the new season has a book page with written memories which then give way to visualizations of first person events. The type used most often here is Tengwar which was originally created by J.R.R. Tolkien. I felt that the type style fit the nature of the imagery that was featured in Early Light. Written memories of childhood and descriptions of the season were changed into the Tengwar face. These were not really translated into a different language, just visually superimposed.

Early Light is visually deeper than almost any other piece in Illuminated Manuscripts. The layering is much more complex. I collected several visual themes for each stage of the changing light of the morning. Since I was using a manuscript theme it was easier to include several elements on the page at once, instead of giving each image the whole screen.

This is one of the few pieces concerning a time of year that was actually made during that season. The storyboards for this were laid out in March of 2000 and the project was completed in September, although the majority of the work was done by July. The images for Early Light were mostly local to Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin. Many of the images were from the back porch and the city gardens around Chicago.

One of the techniques developed during this piece that I now use all the time is layering very faint moving clouds or reflections between layers to give a slow life to still images. The cloud images are often created using fractal noise which is a type of natural looking computer generated mist. In Early Light I made constant use of a video shot of leaves which were very out of focus and facing into the light. This gave a shower curtain look to the video which adds subtle glimmers to some scenes.

..Click here for image list of this shot.

Originally I was going to end the piece at what was about the 5:30 mark where the orbs move down the trail. The piece sat at that length for a couple of weeks until in an unusual burst of animating energy, I finished about 3 minutes in a few days.The total rendering time for Early Light was 9 1/2 days on a G4 400. This piece, like Nocturn, was rendered in the Quicktime Animation Format which is a lossless digital format. Early Light has been shown as part of the SIGGRAPH 2001 Animation Festival, on Mosquito TV in Sweden and various other shows.