B-17 Archaeology

This flying logo sequence was created for a television show that documents the history of particular missions and crews, and subsequent restoration processes for their planes.

First I proposed a number of possible logo designs by creating modular elements that could be mixed and matched.


By providing a number of possibilities for the client to consider (without overwhelming them, as all of the possible elements could be configured to over 8,000 arrangements!), the client was able to specify a design that combines elements of multiple different logos above.

The animation features a fly-by of the plane that is close enough to see three of the crew members. Using a small motion capture setup, I animated the crewmen.


This project brought up an interesting technical dilemma – the wagon wheel effect. I researched the rotation direction and RPM values of this plane’s propellers, but their speed and the frame rate of the video combine to create an illusion that they are apparently rotating in the wrong direction! In this case, the illusion seemed to bother the client enough that I suggested changing the RPM of the propellers – so that, while technically not as accurate and realistic, the illusion would appear to be the correct direction of rotation.

I then researched whether or not anyone has created tools and equations to calculate the apparent motion of propellers (or other spinning objects) for film and video. The short answer is that, while some research has been done in this area, there are just too many variables to create one tool that will reliably tell you whether or not something is going to appear to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise.

Here’s the finished animation:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s