Robert J Abel
- Category : Computer-Programmer
- Type : ME
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Small (20)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 1
American feature documentary film director on the leading edge of technology for more than 25 years. A pioneer in computer animation and graphics, Abel had consistently shown a rare display of genius for innovative techniques in emerging mediums. Working primarily in television advertising, RA&A (Robert Abel & Associates) created 33 Clio Award-winning commercials, including the dazzling 7Up "Uncola" spots and the influential CG "Sexy Robot." The TV viewer who customarily clicks off commercials stops to watch such memorable work as the famed Escher print of interlocking birds coming to life, a man taking the Levi jeans logo for a walk on a leash, a sheet of paper that folds itself into an airplane and sails out a window. This body of work, as noted by New York's Museum of Modern Art, "changed television forever."
From the early 1970s through the mid-80s, the Hollywood-based studio of RA&A was the center of this visionary creativity. Abel's film and TV work includes "Sophia: A Self-Portrait," on TV 1968, "Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs and Englishmen," 1971, "Elvis On Tour," 1972, "Let the Good Times Roll," 1973, "Tron," 1982 and "The Mind’s Eye," 1990.
While at UCLA, Abel and his friend Con Pederson came across the "slit scan" effect used in later films as the "stargate" effect. Abel already had Emmy Awards as a documentary filmmaker when he and Pederson formed a business partnership in 1971. There were joined by some of the most creative and imaginative minds in the business to form RA&A. When they did not know how to do something, it meant that it had never been done before so they pushed the envelope continually.
By the mid ‘70s they were using computers to create such effects as putting 150 passes on the same piece of film, moving from one camera to another, a combination of computer graphics, miniatures and some live action. A vector graphics system (used as a flight simulator at the time) allowed them to use a CAD/CAM to prevision complex shots rather than working from storyboards, allowing them to choreograph movements in advance. The result was an apparently seamless commercial sequence such as a 60-second take made up of 1,700 separate passes. There was no software in existence for their work; they wrote cutting-edge code to digitize the environment they chose. More than once, they went through sleepless 48-hour weekends with a staff of eight sequestered in their office until they resolved an impossible solution, "with a great deal of pain!"
Abel died of complications following a heart attack on 9/23/2001 in Los Angeles.