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, with original music scored note-to-frame. The series was conceived by Steven Churchill of Odyssey Productions in 1990. The initial video was directed, conceptualized, edited and co-produced by Jan Nickman of Miramar Productions and produced by Churchill. The first three products in the series were released on VHS (by BMG) and LaserDisc (by Image Entertainment) and also released on DVD (by Simitar Entertainment). The fourth program in the series was released and distributed by Sony Music on DVD.
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 and producer Steven Churchill, consisted of a non-rigid structure of many semi-related sequences. The general style which characterizes the series is light and cartoonish, 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. 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 No. 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.), released on September 25, 1990, was the first effort by director and co-producer Jan Nickman and producer Steven Churchill, which served as a demonstration of computer animation when the artform 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 No. 12 on Billboard's video sales chart.
Beyond the Mind's Eye (Miramar Images, Inc.), released on December 23, 1992, was directed by Michael Boydstun and produced by Steven Churchill. It featured the music of Jan Hammer and included the series' first vocal tracks in such segments as "Too Far" and "Seeds of Life", the latter 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) and an instrumental version of the same track. Some scenes of Beyond the Mind's Eye were originally created for the arcade lasergame Cube Quest, produced by Simutrek in 1983. Beyond the Mind's Eye also features some CGI sequences from The Lawnmower Man (1992). The DVD contains 11 segments. The sales of this video were RIAA-certified as "Multi-Platinum" and reached as high as No. 8 on Billboard's video sales chart.
The Gate to the Mind's Eye (Miramar Images, Inc.), released on June 30, 1994, was directed by Michael Boydstun and produced by Steven Churchill. It featured music by Thomas Dolby and also continued the trend of vocal tracks, with five of its nine segments including vocals: "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; and "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 visionary artist Beny Tchaicovsky.
Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye (Odyssey Productions), released on July 12, 1996, was directed by Edward Feuer and produced by Steven Churchill. It featured 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 Ecco: The Tides of Time (1994) and Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and also features CGI sequences from Cyberscape, a 45 minute computer animation produced and copyrighted by Beny Tchaicovsky, released on VHS and DVD by Sony Music in 1997.
Spin-off titles and other releases
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 three titles: The Mind's Eye Presents Luminous Visions (Odyssey Productions, April 24, 1998), The Mind's Eye Presents Ancient Alien (Odyssey Productions, July 10, 1998) and The Mind's Eye Presents Little Bytes (Odyssey Productions, July 25, 2000).
Other anthology films released by Churchill, such as Imaginaria (Odyssey Visual Design, December 21, 1993) and Turbulence (Odyssey Productions, March 16, 1996), did not 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 entries in the eight part Computer Animation series, which ran from 1996 to 2000, with Computer Animation Festival Volume 1.0 (Odyssey Visual Design, November 5, 1993), Computer Animation Festival Volume 2.0 (Odyssey Visual Design, September 2, 1994), and Computer Animation Festival Volume 3.0 (Odyssey Productions, July 12, 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, May 6, 1997), The Mind's Eye Presents Computer Animation Showcase (Odyssey Productions, August 29, 1997), and The Mind's Eye Presents Computer Animation Celebration (Odyssey Productions, May 1, 1998). The last two titles in the series are Computer Animation Marvels (Odyssey Productions, July 23, 1999) and Computer Animation Extravaganza (Odyssey Productions, August 18, 2000).
A second sister series obliquely referencing Computer Animation is formed by the original Mind's Eye video and Cyberscape: A Computer Animation Vision (August 28, 1997, co-produced by Zoe Productions and Odyssey Productions), a surreal animation chronicling the evolution of human life and thought, by 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" for the week of December 23, 1992 on the TV series Siskel & Ebert.
Several excerpts from The Mind's Eye were seen in the 1992 sci-fi horror 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 Mind's Eye videos as part of their "Computer Animated Art Festivals" that run overnight on Fridays.
- 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[permanent dead link]
- Chen, Chun-Wei. Parsons Animation and Digital Video Festival. "Comic Studio: Research Paper" - References Archived 2012-06-30 at archive.today. Dec 9, 2002.
- SIGGRAPH '97 Newsletter
- The Mind's Eye
- The Mind's Eye at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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 at IMDb
- Luminous Visions at AllMovie
- Ancient Alien
- Ancient Alien at IMDb
- Ancient Alien at AllMovie
- Virtual Nature
- Virtual Nature is available for free download at the Internet Archive