Zoetrope History

Zoetrope Galloping HorseZoetrope history is an animated vintage toy that was originally developed in 1830s. The Zoetrope has more recently been a major feature in the film, “The Woman In Black” starring Daniel Radcliffe.

This is a modern replica of a traditional Zoetrope. A zoetrope is a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures.
The zoetrope consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. On the inner surface of the cylinder is a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.

Just insert an animation strip, spin the drum and look through the slots. The pictures instantly spring to life! Horses gallop, dolphins fly, frogs jump and more!

Change the 18 included picture strips at will. Then, try sketching on the six included Draw-Your-Own strips. Anyone can be an animator!

The zoetrope, a device that creates the illusion of motion through a series of static images, has a fascinating history that spans centuries and continents.

The Zoetrope: A Journey Through Time

Ancient Roots

The principles of the zoetrope date back to around 180 AD in China, where the inventor Ting Huan created an early version called the “chao hua chich kuan” (the pipe which makes fantasies appear). This device used a series of mirrors and candlelight to give the illusion of moving images.

19th Century Revival

The modern zoetrope, as we know it, was developed independently in the 19th century by several inventors. In 1833, the Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau introduced the “phenakistiscope,” a device that created a fluid illusion of motion when spun in front of a mirror. Simultaneously, the Austrian Simon von Stampfer invented the “stroboscope,” based on similar principles.

The Zoetrope’s Debut

The term “zoetrope” was coined in 1866 by American inventor William Lincoln, who patented this version of the device. The name, derived from the Greek words “zoe” (life) and “tropos” (turn), aptly describes its function. Lincoln’s zoetrope consisted of a spinning cylinder with vertical slits on the sides. Inside, a series of pictures on a strip were arranged in such a way that, when viewed through the slits at the right speed, the pictures appeared to be moving.

Cultural Impact

The zoetrope was not just a scientific marvel but also a popular Victorian entertainment. It brought the magic of motion pictures into homes, amusing and astonishing people of all ages. Its principle laid the groundwork for the development of later motion picture devices like the praxinoscope and ultimately the modern cinema.

The Zoetrope in Modern Times

Today, the zoetrope is celebrated more for its historical significance than its entertainment value. It’s a crucial artifact in the history of film and animation, demonstrating the early human fascination with depicting motion. Modern adaptations have seen the zoetrope transformed into large-scale sculptures and even 3D versions, showcasing its timeless appeal and the enduring human quest to capture the essence of movement.

Eadweard Muybridge and His Impact on Motion Picture Technology

Early Life and Career

Eadweard Muybridge, born in England in 1830, began his career as a photographer, particularly known for his landscapes and architectural studies. However, his most influential work would come in the realm of motion studies.

Pioneering Motion Studies

Muybridge is best known for his groundbreaking work in photographic studies of motion. In the late 1870s, he was commissioned by Leland Stanford, a former governor of California and race-horse owner, to prove that there was a moment in a horse’s gallop when all four hooves were off the ground. Muybridge’s experiments went beyond answering this question and opened a new chapter in understanding dynamic motion.

Zoopraxiscope – The Bridge to the Zoetrope

Building upon the principles of the zoetrope, Muybridge developed the zoopraxiscope in 1879. This device projected a series of individual images on a rotating glass disk, creating the illusion of motion. The zoopraxiscope can be seen as a direct ancestor of the motion picture projector. The images used in the zoopraxiscope were often based on Muybridge’s own photographic sequences, capturing various forms of motion in humans and animals.

Legacy and Influence

Muybridge’s work had a profound impact on the development of motion pictures. His techniques of capturing motion predated the film camera and directly influenced the work of inventors like Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers. Furthermore, his motion studies have had a lasting impact in the fields of art and science, influencing artists, biomechanists, and others.

The Zoetrope and Muybridge

While Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope was a separate invention, it shared the zoetrope’s fundamental principle of creating the illusion of motion through sequential images. His work represented a significant step in the evolution from simple motion devices like the zoetrope to the complex world of cinema.

Incorporating Muybridge into the history of the zoetrope highlights the trajectory of motion picture technology, from simple animation devices to the birth of cinema. His contributions provide a deeper context for understanding the significance of these early inventions.

Leave a Reply