The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

The Bellows March – Zoetropes

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. via

In The Bellows March, Eric Dyer and his henchpeople have updated the process a bit with a fast-shutter video camera filming tiny 3D-printed hand-painted concertinas mounted on a spinning, circular conical drum he calls a “cinetrope”. The result is mesmerizing, to say the least.

Perhaps the earliest examples of animation, of cinematographics for that matter, would probably be the zoetrope (“wheel of life”). It’s invention is generally attributed to George Horner and his 1834 “daedalum” or “wheel of the devil”. (the term ‘zoetrope’ wasn’t applied until a good twenty-some years later) Many believe Mr Horner’s invention was merely a variation on the 1832 phenakistoscope (“to cheat the eye”) made by Joseph Plateau.

Although placed firmly in the 19th century by the western viewpoint, the probable first use of stroboscopic animation was 750 years earlier in China. Ting Huan, a prolific inventor of the late Han dynasty, created a device in approximately 180 CE he called “the pipe which makes fantasies appear” that used panels of paper or mica for the pictures and was powered by convection from a lamp.

Production video with stills of the cinetropes

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