Tag Archives: blocktronics

New ANSImation: Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus

In December, I created a new ANSI animation for the holidays called “Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus”, which was released in Blocktronics’ “Darker Image #2” artpack.

Here’s a video version of the ANSImation:

But (as always), the best way to view this is to use SyncTerm to connect to my BBS, Guardian of Forever, and watch it there.

So far, each of my ANSImations have been a way to try a new technique in ANSI, whether that’s parallax scrolling, perspective transforms, or whatever. This time was no exception. I came up with an idea for a Star Trek “transporter” effect that could work in ANSI. The effect would have three parts: first, a set of “rays” streaming downward (ala Star Trek: The Next Generation); second, the rays coalesce into a sparkly white/yellow outline of a sprite; finally, the white outline crossfades to the actual sprite itself.

For the first and third parts to work, I cooked up a function that calculates the dominant low color of a given ANSI character. For example, if it’s a solid bright green block, then the dominant color is green. But what if it’s a gradient block with red in the foreground and gray in the background? My function will figure it out. With the ability to calculate these dominant colors, I can create the illusion of a gradient moving over a portion of an image; or the illusion of a sprite fading in/out.

Anyway, I had this idea for a while, but never coded it up. As Blocktronics’ pack release neared, I figured I’d take a stab at writing my code to see if I could pull something together. Surprisingly I was able to get the transporter effect mostly working in just a few days. I managed to draw a background of the Enterprise’s transporter room, then started thinking about who I wanted to “beam up” in this animation. Since the pack was coming out so close to Christmas, I figured I’d do a Star Trek / Santa Claus mashup. The idea was silly, unexpected, and I could keep it very simple. The only thing really happening is two objects beaming in, with a bunch of dialogue bubbles. I drew ANSI sprites of Santa and his bag, using various pixel art pieces I found online for inspiration.

Once I pulled it all together, I showed my kids without explaining ahead of time what it was. They each reacted by laughing in surprise when Santa was revealed. That was NOT who they were expecting to show up. Since they liked it so much, I figured it was good to contribute to the pack.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although one thing I learned is that it is very difficult to translate this transporter effect from the terminal to a GIF. In a terminal, it’s simply thousands of individual characters changing. But in a GIF, to do the same thing would requires thousands of frames! I worked around this and kept the GIF version to about 240 frames, but even when I set the GIF with the smallest possible delay between frames, it back way too slow. But maybe that makes it perfect to include here, since it will allow you examine the transporter effect a little more closely:

An animated GIF that shows the transporter effect from my recent ANSImation.

New ANSImation: Star Wars opening crawl

Screen shot of the later version of the opening crawl for “Star Wars.”

When Star Wars debuted in 1977, the first sequence audiences took in was the iconic opening crawl: a wall of yellow text rolling up the screen, shrinking toward a vanish point in the distance.

Screen capture of an opening crawl from a Flash Gordon serial.

This crawl was George Lucas’ homage to the old Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s (which inspired many other parts of Star Wars visual style). Since then, the crawl has become a common trope cribbed by TV shows, computer games, and others.

When I was thinking of ideas I might contribute to Blocktronics’ “Detention Block AA-23” Star Wars artpack, making an ANSI version of the crawl was one of my first thoughts.

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New parallax ANSImation: Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids

I want to push boundaries.

That’s what the original Star Wars films did. Industrial Light & Magic revolutionized special effects with novel new techniques for motion control and amazing model work.

When I work on ANSI projects now, I try to think about ways to do things in ANSI that weren’t possible in the 1990s because of low bandwidth or limited processing power.

How about parallax ANSImation? Well, I cooked up a new one for Blocktronics’ new artpack “Detention Block AA-23”. It features the Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids. Check it out:

Want to know how it came to be? Keep reading.

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Detention Block AA-23

Is today the 40th anniversary of the original release of “Star Wars”? Blocktronics is all over it.

The ANSI supergroup’s new artpack “Detention Block AA-23” landed today, and amazingly I contributed a few pieces!

The first is a new parallax ANSImation of the Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids, inspired by the scene from “The Empire Strikes Back.”

The second is an ANSI adaptation of Star Wars’ iconic opening crawl.

Finally I snuck in two 80×23 images from “Empire Strikes Back”: Luke and Vader’s saber battle, and Han Solo frozen in carbonite.

Anyway, this is the most ANSI I’ve ever contributed to an artpack. I hope you’ll check out the pack, because there is so much other can’t-miss, awesome work from Blocktronics’ rock stars.