Mind's Eye (film series)
The Mind's Eye series consists of several art films rendered using computer-generated imagery of varying levels of sophistication. The series began in 1990. It was produced by Steven Churchill of Odyssey Productions (originally Odyssey Visual Design) & Miramar Productions. The series was released on VHS (by BMG) and LaserDisc (by Image Entertainment) and later re-released on DVD (by the now-defunct Simitar Entertainment).
The typical entry in the Mind's Eye series is a short package film, usually 50 to 60 minutes long, with an electronic music soundtrack over a series of music video-like sequences. The original film, titled The Mind's Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey by director and co-producer Jan Nickman, consisted of a non-rigid structure of many semi-related sequences. The general style which characterizes the series is light and cartoony due to the difficulty of rendering more complicated images using the computers of the day.
The computer animation sequences that appeared in the films were generally not produced specifically for the Mind's Eye series but rather were work originally created for other purposes, including demo reels, commercials, music videos, and feature films. Director and co-producer Jan Nickman then assembled these sequences into a narrative through creative editing, which resulted in a double platinum selling film considered to be a milestone in the field of computer animation. As a result, "The Mind's Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey" reached #12 on Billboard's video hits chart. This approach gave Churchill access to the best-quality computer graphics of the time without having to bear their substantial production costs.
The Mind's Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey (Miramar Images, Inc., September 25, 1990) was the first effort by director and co-producer Jan Nickman which served as a demonstration of computer animation when the art-form was still in its relative infancy. It is composed of a sequence of segments ambitiously chronicling the formation of Earth ("Creation"), the rise of human civilizations ("Civilization Rising"), and the technological advances of humanity from the advent of agriculture to the future exploration of the cosmos. The video speculatively concludes with a segment of what might be the next sentient species to arise on Earth, as well as the CGI short Stanley and Stella in: Breaking the Ice. The soundtrack was composed by James Reynolds. The sales of this video were RIAA certified as "Multi-Platinum" and reached as high as #12 on Billboard's video sales chart.
Beyond the Mind's Eye (Odyssey Visual Design, December 24, 1992) featured the efforts of Jan Hammer and included the first vocal tracks in such segments as Too Far and Seeds of Life, a sequence themed around planet-colonizing seeds featuring the noted Panspermia by computer graphics artist Karl Sims. The DVD version included both the vocal version of Seeds of Life (sung by Chris Thompson) that blended the animation segment and footage of Hammer and his "band" performing (composed of four Jan Hammers), with an instrumental version of the same track. Beyond the Mind's Eye also features some CGI sequences from The Lawnmower Man. The DVD contains 11 segments. The sales of this video were RIAA certified as "Multi-Platinum" and reached as high as #8 on Billboard's video sales chart.
The Gate to the Mind's Eye (Odyssey Visual Design, June 30, 1994) continued the trend of vocal tracks, along with music by Thomas Dolby. Five of its nine segments include vocal tracks: Armageddon, a sequence depicting massive devastation; Neo, an astronomy-themed song; Valley of the Mind's Eye, a song about the progress of human technology; Nuvogue, the first jazz track in the series; Quantum Mechanic starring guest vocalist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi. The Gate to the Mind's Eye also featured the animations Delirium Tremendus, God and the Quantum and Synchronicity produced and conceptualized by artist animator Beny Tchaicovsky.
Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye (Odyssey Productions, July 11, 1996) features a soundtrack by Kerry Livgren and two more vocal tracks, One Dark World (sung by Darren Rogers) and Aspen Moon (sung by Livgren's nephew Jacob). Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye features versions of CGI sequences from Johnny Mnemonic, Ecco: The Tides of Time and also featured excerpts from '"Cyberscape" a 45 minutes computer animation vision produced and copyrighted by Beny Tchaicosky released on VHS and DVD by Sony Music in 1997.
Spin-off titles and others
Concurrently with the release of the Mind's Eye series, Churchill also released a series of titles such as Virtual Nature: A Computer Generated Visual Odyssey From the Makers of the Mind's Eye (Odyssey Visual Design, 1993) that obliquely referenced the series. This sister-series of videos continued after the release of Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye with the final three titles: The Mind's Eye Presents Luminous Visions (Odyssey Productions, 1998) and The Mind's Eye Presents Ancient Alien (Odyssey Productions, 1998), and The Mind's Eye Presents Little Bytes (Odyssey Productions, 2000).
Other Anthology film released by Churchill such as Imaginaria (Odyssey Visual Design, 1994), and Turbulence (Odyssey Productions, 1997) have failed to include the term "The Mind's Eye" as part of their titles and are thus not considered to be a part of the series. Churchill's most recent releases have been members of the 8-member Computer Animation series which ran from 1996 to 2000 with Computer Animation Festival Volume 1.0 (Odyssey Visual Design, 1993), Computer Animation Festival Volume 2.0 (Odyssey Visual Design, 1994), and Computer Animation Festival Volume 3.0 (Odyssey Productions, 1996) forming the main series. The subsequent three Computer Animation titles again included oblique references to Mind's Eye and are entitled The Mind's Eye Presents Computer Animation Classics (Odyssey Productions, 1997), The Mind's Eye Presents Computer Animation Showcase (Odyssey Productions, 1997), and The Mind's Eye Presents Computer Animation Celebration (Odyssey Productions, 1998). The last two members in the series are Computer Animation Marvels (Odyssey Productions, 1999) and Computer Animation Extravaganza (Odyssey Productions, 2000). A second sister-series obliquely referencing "Computer Animation" is formed by the original Mind's Eye video and Cyberscape: A Computer Animation Vision 1997 (co-produced by Zoe Productions and Odyssey Productions) a surreal animation on the history of the evolution of human life and thought by award-winning visionary artist Beny Tchaicovsky.
Reception and adaptations
Beyond the Mind's Eye was a bestseller in the US when it was originally released on VHS and LaserDisc. Roger Ebert selected it as his "Video Pick of the Week" on the week of December 25, 1992 on Siskel & Ebert.
Several excerpts from The Mind's Eye were seen in the 1992 film The Lawnmower Man, which itself was featured in Beyond the Mind's Eye. The Mind's Eye and Beyond the Mind's Eye were both integral components in YTV's Short Circutz segments that aired between programs in the 1990s. Canadian independent television station NTV airs excerpts from the first three of The Mind's Eye videos among their "Computer Animated Art Festivals" that run overnight on Fridays.
Pantera covered the song "Planet Caravan", originally by Black Sabbath, on their 1994 album Far Beyond Driven. The music video for this song features scenes from "Beyond the Mind's Eye".
- Business Wire. "Image Entertainment Signs Exclusive Agreement With Odyssey Productions for DVD and VHS Release of State-of-the-Art Computer Animation Programs". Aug 18, 1999.
- Fitzpatrick, Eileen. Computer Animation Reaches a Growing Niche. Billboard. Pg. 70. 18 October 1997.
- Pell City, AL Library entry
- Chen, Chun-Wei. Parsons Animation and Digital Video Festival. "Comic Studio: Research Paper" - References. Dec 9, 2002.
- SIGGRAPH '97 Newsletter
- Animation Trip Homepage (current Odyssey Productions copyright holders)
- SIGGRAPH.org Odyssey Productions developer blurb
- The Mind's Eye
- The Mind's Eye on IMDb
- The Mind's Eye at AllMovie
- The Mind's Eye is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Beyond the Mind's Eye
- Beyond the Mind's Eye on IMDb
- Beyond the Mind's Eye at AllMovie
- Beyond the Mind's Eye is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The Gate to the Mind's Eye
- The Gate to the Mind's Eye on IMDb
- The Gate to the Mind's Eye at AllMovie
- The Gate to the Mind's Eye is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye
- Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye on IMDb
- Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye at AllMovie
- Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Luminous Visions
- Luminous Visions on IMDb
- Luminous Visions at AllMovie
- Ancient Alien
- Ancient Alien on IMDb
- Ancient Alien at AllMovie
- Virtual Nature
- Virtual Nature is available for free download at the Internet Archive