Before there was video, animation (i.e. moving images or at least the illusion of moving images) was possible, thanks to devices called zoetropes. This video of a LEGO Star Wars zoetrope explains the concept pretty well: a zoetrope is a mechanical device featuring a wheel that rotates a series of images (or in this case, LEGO minifigs) that appear to be moving when viewed through vertical slits. It’s like video because you see one frame at a time, and each subsequent frame features a slight change from the previous one, the resulting effect being animation.
The good news is that folks with access to a 3D printer will soon be able to make one of these devices for themselves, assuming that the Kickstarter campaign that launches in December is successful. Holmes explains the process:
“It’s powered by 24 3Watt RGB LED strobes, precision timed by a microcontroller linked to an encoder motor. RPM(Strobe-rate), brightness, colour are all controlled from a phone app. […] Assemble the kit in about 1/2 hour then download and print one of our free animations – or design your own. Animations can be swapped in a minute.”
Learn more about these fascinating zoetropes here, and let us know in the comments below what other animations it would be neat to see in this form.
Featured image: Kevin Holmes
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