In this two-part demo, Sten Vanderbeek (at that time artist in residence at MIT) demonstrates the use of Beflix, a programming language especially designed for him by Ken Knowlton (from Bell Labs). With creating Beflix, Knowlton's goal was to invent an intuitive tool for artists.
"BEFLIX is the name of the first specialised computer animation language.
BEFLIX was invented by Kenneth C. Knowlton at Bell Telephone Laboratories, USA.
BEFLIX was invented in 1963.
BEFLIX is a corruption of "Bell Flicks".
BEFLIX produced images at a resolution of 252 x 184 in 8 shades of grey.
BEFLIX-generated films, created using an IBM 7094 computer and Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder, cost approximately $500 per minute of output.
Draw straight lines from dots
Solid fill area
Jasia Reichardt in "The Computer in Art", 1971:
"The mosaic picture system devised by Kenneth C. Knowlton was used to produce both educational and research films. The other main programming language used was FORTRAN. Knowlton used the computer in two specific and distinct ways: always as a high-powered drafting machine and sometimes as a calculating machine which could determine the consequences of mathematical and logical statements.
With the mosaic system or BEFLIX (corruption of Bell Flicks) the pictures are made up of 252x184 arrays of spots of different shades of grea, or as numbers 0 to 7, indicating light intensity at that point. Pictures are built up and modified within the computer by appropriate manipulation of htese numbers. BEFLIX is not a complex language mathematically since it does things that could literally be done by hand, although it performs this task more easily (not to mention faster) since some of the patterns are 'logically simple' although graphically complex. The instructions in the BEFLIX language permit drawing straight lines consisting of dots, or drawing arcs and other curves, or copying one area with a solid shade of grey, or shifting the contents of one area up, down, right, or left, a specified number of raster positions. There are also operations for automatically filling an outline with a specific shade of grey, for enlarging part of a picture or a whole one, and for gradually dissolving one picture into another. The BEFLIX films were produced at approximately $500 per minute.
Apart from a film which demonstrated how the BEFLIX system works, Knowlton together with Stan Vanderbeek made a number of films for pleasure, with pulsating colours and intricate cascades of dots changing colour and position at a phenomenal speed. One of them Man and his World, was made for the World Fair in Montreal in 1967."
Dissolve image transition"
(from: Jasia Reichardt, The Computer in Art)