Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPillusion – Phenakistoscope, Zoetrope and Pre-Film Animation
by on February 4, 2018 in Tech


Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPillusion

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team.

This weekend, the goal was to take photos and videos that create optical illusions.

Wheel of Life

One of the more interesting animations and optical illusions I have seen are a pre-film animation that creates the illusion of motion called a zoetrope and phenakistoscope.

Some Trivia

The name zoetrope is from the Greek root words ζωή zoe, “life” and τρόπος tropos, “turning” as a transliteration of “wheel of life”. The term was coined by inventor William E. Lincoln

  • The Projection Phenakistiscope uses two discs, one with sequential images, the other with a single slot through which the user views the animation. Using a pulley and handle system, the two discs turn in contra-rotation, producing a motion picture on the screen.
  • It was invented almost simulaneously in 1832 by Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau and Simon Ritter von Stampfer (following studies done by Michael Faraday), Plateau coined the name “phenakistoscope”, from the greek φενακίζω (phenakizō) to lie or deceive.
  • Plateau was the first to realize that a frame rate of at least 16 images per second was required for a sense of continuous motion, and that there had to be a resting period between images for a perfect illusion.
  • In 1879, Émile Reynaud invented the praxinoscope, a device that combined features of both the phenakistoscope and the zoetrope to produce an image of a rotating cylinder viewed through a set of rotating mirrors.
  • In 1872, Reynaud further refined his invention to produce a the projecting praxinoscope, which could project moving images onto a screen.
  • In 1888, Thomas Edison patented a motorized version of the Zoetrope called the Kinetoscope, which projected a series of photographic images.

Interesting right?

Initially we set up the animation sequence

But how to animate in After Effects?

We headed on over to Adobe Education Exchange and found a short tutorial by Kev Lavery @KevLaveryMedia called “Zoetropes in After Effects”

It runs through one method of creating a zoetrope effect in After Effects.

Hope you like.

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