Animation Axis: Persistence of Vision III

Love this.

An animated short film made with just one image exploring the dancing potential of the still sculptures at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.

by Ismael Sanz-Pena

As you’d know if you followed my Instagram stories or Snapchat I am always looking for these kind of animatable repetitive elements in the world. Modern technology is a wonderful thing with regards to making that kind of capture possible and putting straight out into the world in a matter of moments.

This is a great example of applying animation to a great piece of architecture.

(via Stefan)



On The Phenakistoscope

I came across this tumblr post from stil a few days ago that sent me down a rabbit hole.

Invented in 1832 by Joseph Plateau, the phenakistoscope was an early animation device that used the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.

Here follows a few links and gifs collected from various posts around the net.

Stand up, ye spellers, now and spell;
spell phenakistoscope and knell:
Or take some simple word as chilly,
Or gauger Or the garden lily…

This from Stephen Herbert:

The phenakistiscope and ‘stroboscopic disc’ of the 1830s were the first instruments to create an illusion of movement based on rapidly changing sequence pictures; the basic technique used subsequently in one form or another by the zoetrope, the Zoopraxiscope, cinematography, television, video, and digital motion pictures. These intriguing spinning-disc toys and the sequence drawings produced for them have not been adequately investigated. 

A variant of it had two discs, one with slits and one with pictures; this was slightly more unwieldy but needed no mirror. Unlike the zoetrope and its successors, the phenakistoscope could only practically be used by one person at a time.  – (Juxtapoz)

Faulty animation from an 1833 McLean’s Optical Illusions, or, Magic Panorama disc (slits appear still when viewed through a phénakisticope) – wiki

On 10 December 1830 Michael Faraday presented a paper at the Royal Institution of Great Britain called On a Peculiar Class of Optical Deceptions about the optical illusions that could be found in rotating wheels. He referred to Roget’s paper and described his associated new findings. Much was similar to what Plateau had published and Faraday acknowledged this publicly but also wrote to Plateau personally and sent him his paper. Some of Faraday’s experiments were new to Plateau and especially the one with a fixed image produced by a turning wheel in front of the mirror inspired Plateau with the idea for new illusions. In July 1832 Plateau sent a letter to Faraday and added an experimental disc with some “anamorphoses” that produced a “completely immobile image of a little perfectly regular horse” when rotated in front of a mirror. After several attempts and many difficulties he constructed a working model of the phénakisticope in November or December 1832. Plateau published his invention in a 21 January 1833 letter to Correspondance Mathématique et PhysiqueHe believed that if the manner of producing the illusions could be somehow modified, they could be put to other uses, “for example, in phantasmagoria“. – wiki

Phenakistoscope, Great Britain, 1833 Courtesy of the Richard Balzer Collection

The fame of the phenakistoscope lasted only two years, due to the rapid progression of science in the era, but fortunately certain historicists have devoted their careers to sourcing and celebrating these forgotten objects. Collector Richard Balzer is one such person – an aficionado of zoetropes, dissolve slides, vue d’optiques and other such illusory devices – and since stumbling upon his first 40 years ago he has established an admirable and ever-growing collection. Here, AnOther selects a tiny fraction of his archive, from softly rippling foliage to pirouetting ballerinas and galloping horses, for your delight. – (anothermag)

Phenakistoscope, circa 1860 Courtesy of the Richard Balzer Collection
Phenakistoscope, England, 1833 Published by Thomas McLain, London, courtesy of the Richard Balzer Collection

There is some cool posts here and there on how to make your own. Like this from MakeZine, another from Instructables, and for good measure here is a video on it’s construction.

Re-animation from a paper disc by Eadweard Muybridge and his own version, the zoopraxiscope. (1893)

Use your Vote 2017

I made a very short video to encourage people to vote in the General Election tomorrow.
There is a lot at stake and this time it can really make a difference.
I can’t post video directly here, but I have so far posted it to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (all embedded below), so please share on your favourite platform, if you know someone who you think might need some encouragement.

What led you down this path?


“I became fed up with animation for several reasons. Even though my work had a big impact, I kept going broke making film after film, and even doing high profile jobs was not very sustainable for the kinds of projects I wanted to do. In animation you tend to always be getting shafted by people. People just love shafting animators all day long for some reason. And very few really appreciate what you’re doing.

I also know many people who direct animated features or have their own TV shows and they’re not exactly happy people, which is to say, most of them are miserable. So it started feeling like a dead end. At the same time I started playing with game engines and getting ideas in that direction, so I just followed that.”

– David O’Reilly

David O’Reilly’s game Everything is available for PS4 and Steam.

The Idea—the Origin of Everything 1979

From Hayao Miyazaki:

From within the confusion of your mind, you start to capture the hazy figure of what you want to express. And then you start to draw. It doesn’t matter if the story isn’t yet complete. The story will follow. Later still the characters take shape. You draw a picture that establishes the underlying tone for a specific world. Of course, what you have drawn will not be your final product. At times, your work may be rejected entirely. When I mentioned earlier that you must have the will to go to any length, this is what I meant. When you draw that first picture, it is only the beginning of an immense journey. This is the start of the preparation stage of the film.

It’s worth reading all here.

Draw many pictures, as many as you can. Eventually a world is created. To create one world means to discard other inconsistent or clashing worlds. If something is very important to you, you can keep it carefully stored in your heart for use at another time. Those who have experienced an outpouring of an amazing number of pictures from inside themselves can feel it. They feel that the fragment of a picture they envisioned, the other trunk of a story that was thrown out while piecing together a narrative, the memory of pining for a girl, the knowledge about a subject gained as they delved deeply into a hobby – all of these play a role and become entwined into one thick strand. The scattered material within you has found its direction and started to flow.

Animated Journal: Sad Clangers

Yes, I’ve been posting these small animated “Viney” loops on IG & SC Stories, but obviously they only play once there then they’re gone. Not substantial enough for YouTube or Vimeo so posting them on Instagram for evergreen seems to be the way.

Maybe once I’ve got a set I should put them into a full sequence similar to the first Animated Journal.

I’ll continue to blog them here as and when I update, in the meantime follow me on Snapchat or Instagram to get more instant updates.

Transitory Content Platforms for Animators.

“No, Homer, very few cartoons go out live, it’s a terrible strain on the animator’s wrist.”

Further to my experimenting in Instagram Stories, I fired up the old Snapchat account and am now posting (?) there regularly.

I’m trying to keep the two streams populate with separate content, and indeed, it is already very clear the difference in form. Instagram video quality is higher, so animation (well, my kind of animation anyway) does break up so badly in the compression. Also Instagram doesn’t massively foreground when you have loaded something from the camera roll, any manipulated or animated video gets put in a frame in Snapchat.

Follow me on Snapchat and Instagram, and see what you think.