Mind's Eye (series)

Mind's Eye (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[1]) 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, entitled 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 soundtracks for the films were composed by James Reynolds, Thomas Dolby, Jan Hammer and Kerry Livgren (founder and guitarist for Kansas).[2]


The Mind's Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey (Miramar Images, Inc., 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.[3] 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, 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 a heavily edited version of the 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, 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; and Quantum Mechanic with guest vocalist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi.

Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye (Odyssey Productions, 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)[4]. Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye also features versions of CGI sequences from Johnny Mnemonic and Ecco: The Tides of Time. Released on VHS and DVD by Sony Music.

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 package films 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)[5]. A second sister-series obliquely referencing "Computer Animation" is formed by the original Mind's Eye video and Cyberscape: A Computer Animation Vision (Odyssey Productions, 1997)[6].

Popular culture

Beyond the Mind's Eye was a bestseller in the USA 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 run. Several excerpts from the 1995 film, Johnny Mnemonic, and the 1994 game, Ecco: The Tides of Time, were also featured in Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye.

A sequence from Beyond the Mind's Eye titled "Panspermia" was used for the music video for Planet Caravan by Pantera. (A cover of a 1970 Black Sabbath song.)

James Reynolds' compositions from The Mind's Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey have featured in both the 264th and 271st episodes of The Hearts of Space, respectively entitled "The Lost Frontier,"[7] and "West of the Galaxy"[8]

A short segment taken from the Mike Oldfield music video Let There Be Light from his album The Songs of Distant Earth is included in the Oceanic Celebration video from Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye.

See also


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Fitzpatrick, Eileen. Computer Animation Reaches a Growing Niche. Billboard. Pg. 70. 18 October 1997.
  3. ^ The Mind's Eye credits (IMDb)
  4. ^ Pell City, AL Library entry
  5. ^ Chen, Chun-Wei. Parsons Animation and Digital Video Festival. "Comic Studio: Research Paper" - References. Dec 9, 2002.
  6. ^ SIGGRAPH '97 Newsletter
  7. ^ "The Lost Frontier". Hearts of Space. 31 May 1991. No. 264.
  8. ^ "West of the Galaxy". Hearts of Space. 1 November 1991. No. 271.

External links

The Mind's Eye
The Mind's Eye at the Internet Movie Database
The Mind's Eye at AllRovi
Beyond the Mind's Eye
Beyond the Mind's Eye at the Internet Movie Database
Beyond the Mind's Eye at AllRovi
The Gate to the Mind's Eye
The Gate to the Mind's Eye at the Internet Movie Database
The Gate to the Mind's Eye at AllRovi
Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye
Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye at the Internet Movie Database
Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye at AllRovi
Luminous Visions
Luminous Visions at the Internet Movie Database
Luminous Visions at AllRovi
Ancient Alien
Ancient Alien at the Internet Movie Database
Ancient Alien at AllRovi

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