Phenakistoscope and Thaumatropes

whole1   Whole

Foundations, Phenakistoscope, 9” circle, Ink on Mat Board

Making my own phenakistoscope and thaumatropes has really made me understand how animation had been used in history; these projects made me comprehend how to draw an object from all views, the history behind simple animations, and how much animation has changed since 1982.

My Phenakistoscope has a bird ‘flying around in space,’ by this I mean turning different degrees, instead of doing a simple 360 degrees. I bought a little bird figurine at the store for this project and used where they had different color feathers be where the black is in my phenakistoscope to make it easy to follow through all the turns. My images are scaled so all the birds are the same scale to create the rotation effect. For the middle, I had a difficult time thinking of something to put and ended up putting a bird flying down, originally there was grass but it made the phenakistoscope too confusing to follow, so it is now just a bird flying up and down. I wanted to make the birds less detailed as you go to the middle of the phenakistoscope, so the inside is simply a ‘V’ as a simple bird..

We had learned about phenakistoscopes before in our Survey of Animation class, but I had never understood how exactly it all worked- this just shows how my classes my freshman year are intertwining together to really figure out and comprehend how animation works and the history of it.  To me, this project taught me how to draw from all different angles, how much animation changed and completely what a phenakistoscope is.

       Love    Selfboat

Foundations, Thaumatropes, 5” circle, Ink on Card Stock

I had also made three thaumatropes; a thaumatrope was used in the Victorian times, it is where a card with a picture on each side is attached to two strings and when the strings are twisted the images look as if they are one. Making these thaumatropes helped me comprehend early animation, how my classes connected, and how persistence of vision worked.

For my first thaumatrope, when twisted fast, it looks like my portrait with sunglasses and a mustache on. My second one when twisted is me and my boyfriend. Originally, this thaumatrope was going to be a self-portrait of me with my eyes shut smiling with my boyfriend kissing my cheek, but ended up just being portraits of us. My final thaumatrope when twisted is a shark and sailboat. I had spent time working on these and when they were finally finished I attempted to use them and found that I had made every thaumatrope wrong, teaching me that things I initially think with be semi-easy are not always that way.

The phenakistoscope and thaumatropes all work because of human’s persistence of vision. A persistence of vision is when the retina retains the image seen for a split-second after the image has already been gone; this phenomenon is only apparent in humans. In a phenakistoscope, the persistence of vision is apparent because of the cuts around the circle create an absence making the bird really seem to be ‘flying in space,’ if you were to just make a phenakistoscope without the cute not only would it not work, but you wouldn’t be able to have a persistence of vision. The thaumatropes use persistence of vision when the disk is twisted rapidly; the image on one side is still in the vision, as well as the other image, seeing both together. Making these phenakistoscope and thaumatropes helped me understand what persistence of vision is and how early animation worked.

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