Making a Zoetrope

Research 16th January 2016

A zoetrope is a cylinder contraption in which when spun, a band of images inside creates a moving image. Ten images are drawn out in a sequence that merges together forming a moving image. The first zoetrope was created in 180 AD in China by a man named Ding Huan. However, William Horner pioneered this contraption in 1834 renaming it daedatelum.9142952_orig.jpg

The technique consists of drawing out a set of ten images. I decided to create my own to demonstrate how it works. Below is the set of images I used, its an umbrella opening and closing. The final two images have to link together this is because when spinning it is in a constant loop. If the two images do not connect the procedure will not work and the illusion of the object moving will be unsuccessful . Once drawn and coloured the strip is then placed in the zoetrope and it is spun. The video below demonstrates the technique and what the outcome looks like.

The main success when using this technique is that when glancing through the contraption whilst it’s rotating you do see quite a good image. Using a large zoetrope, only a basic story could be told. When spun it really looks like a moving image, it does remind me of a flip animation book. But, only being able to draw ten frames was quite hard to do, as it’s quite a short space to have movement. When this was first created, hours and hours of time would have been dedicated to drawing these images to make them look as much like an animation as possible. When watching mine I realised that I did not open the umbrella enough and this caused the animation to not be as successful as I wanted. Next time I would open the umbrella a lot wider and do bigger jumps from each frame. I thought, after researching fps, the smaller the movement the smoother the animation is. So I applied this to this method and I believe this is why it did not work as well as I imagined. as it only uses 10 frames a larger movement from frame to frame is needed.

One of the first zoetrope’s was a horse running. The images used were actually real images taken instead of drawn like the one I created. I think that the idea behind it is very clever and the illusion worked incredibly well. When looking at individual frames I noticed that the movement of the horse changed quite a lot from frame to frame. This is probably due to the cameras used,  didn’t have the technology like it is today to capture fast moving images. A modern day version as completely changed the fundamental part of a zoetrope. Taking pictures. Instead they use actual models! They make several plasticine models and change the action slightly on each one. This will then give a 3d effect to the animation when it moves. The zoetrope’s are often now made larger so it can hold these 3d models.






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