Edwin A. Abbot’s Flatland – the Film(s)?

Posted on May 24th, 2007 by

For those mcs students who have ever struggled with the idea of n-dimensional spaces, Edwin Abbot Abbot wrote an interesting novel regarding the evolution of dimension. In Flatland, he explores the notion of 2-dimensional civilizations being brought into contact with 3-dimensional civilization. Since the book’s been around since 1884, you can read Flatland it in its entirety thanks to Project Gutenberg.

I’ve long known of the book but only today stumbled across a recent endeavor by independent animator Ladd P. Ehlinger Jr. Ehlinger has used a combination of 2d and 3d animation techniques to render a feature-length independent film version of Flatland. While my personal take on his visual style is that it’s fairly primitive, I know that such an approach is undoubtedly one of the only ways to bring such a vast undertaking to a level where it can be accomplished by a single independent animator and his band of internet-accessible scripting & audio engineering collaborators. Consider for a moment that it takes dozens of artists & animators multiple days to achieve a single sequence of something as complex as Pixar’s work. Now consider that one guy took on the full duration of a feature length film with none of the staff & render farms that Pixar & Dreamworks, etc use. Truly impressive undertaking.

And by discovering his undertaking, I learned that there are also two other versions have already been completed. One in 1965 and another in 1982. I’ve seen neither but am intrigued.

And, perhaps even more surprising, there’s another competing Flatland movie still in production, which looks to have a much higher production value (and budget), including the involvement of Martin Sheen and many more animators. Who knew the world was so ripe for n-dimensional films?

Seems only logical that once these versions are complete, a version which uses 3d glasses or holographic projection should be the next version to come out but there aren’t any volunteers… yet…

 

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