Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ship #4

Another flying ship

Zoetrope and Phenakistoscope

There are many ways of making animation. Hand-drawn, computer graphic and stop-motion being the most popular among all.

I particularly like Zoetrope because I was lucky enough to work on one that's 8 ft tall and climbed inside the cylinder. The experience was once in a life time. It was the product of blood and sweat. How we cut our fingers making puppet's and sweated ourselves to dehydration from the summer heat (no tears, all H2O molecules were conserved for perspiration). The producer told us our work was "accidentally" burnt down two days before the show (sure... with the whole frame work still intact without a burn mark. Come on... make up a better lie) but that's for another story.

What is a Zoetrope?
Zoetrope is a type animation device that has a drum like form with vertical slits around it. Viewer look through the slits as the cylinder spins. 

It was invented by British mathematician William George Horner in 1834. It uses the persistence of vision to create illusion of motion. Each slit acts like a shutter. Another way to view it is to use strobe light. Those seemly inanimate objects will come to life right in front of your eyes. (see the reaction of this Spinning Chocolate Joy)

There are some famous 3D Zoetropes built by big studio like Ghibli and Pixar.

The wedding cake structure is to get maximum space for animation. 

Here are some of my favorite ones made by independent artists:

I know this Halloween Zoetrope video is tedious to make because who ever did the video had to carve the pumpkin while shooting instead of carving everything out and then shoot.

In real life, without the slits (or the shutter) we will need strobe light to be able to see the motion. Since video camera has built in frame rate, filmmaker can match the strobe light speed to the frame rate of the camera to avoid what I like to call "seizure" effects.  I'm pretty sure this one and halloween Zoetrope video are both done by shooting still images, like stop-motions.

Those 3D-printed Zoetrope sculptures were designed by John Edmark. Quite mesmerizing to watch. This video is mostly likely created by matching frame rate and strobe light.

*Some rudimentary calculations are required to make the objects move in the direction you want. It can get quite complicated though, which I won't go into.

Another type of device that is similar to Zoetrope is Phenakistoscope
What is a Phenakistoscope?
It looks like this:

It is a flat disc with slits around the it. To see the images move the viewer spin the wheel in front of a mirror and look through the slits. This device can only be view by one person at a time.

other version
It is a toy invented by Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau in 1832. (Children back in the days have more inventive toys than what we have today. Jealous.) This is all pre-film and pre-computer era so people find creative ways make "effects".

I think computers and consumerism strip away our ability to built and invent new toys for ourselves. 

There are other types of optical illusion device like Thaumatrope, Praxinoscope, Kinetoscope and Mutoscope.  Since I have only work with the Zoetrope and Phenakistoscope I only want to write about those two.

Frame Rate
Lower than 10 frames per second our mind will perceive them as still image and the motion will look jerky. Today's animation is made at 24fps or 24 images/sec. You can get by with 12fps. 

Theatrical film has a frame rate of 24fps. A traditional theater project will project the 24fps film with shutter speed at 48fps or 72fps to reduce flickers. 

Stander NTSC video system has frame rate of 29.97

My work.


Thursday, May 19, 2016


Underpainting gives a warmer tone to the overall image. 

Always mix green

Friday, May 6, 2016

Adventure Plein Air

Plein air painitng and outdoor sketching often are accompanied by unexpected events.
Such as getting robbed by squirrels
Photo from Dona Pb
The convict named Gordo
Photo from Dona Pb

Or getting a flat tire
Fortunately we were at a restaurant's parking lot with a lot of people around and not on a deserted freeway. The moment we pull out the spare tire from the trunk people came to help. Our painting session had to cut short because of the event but safety back home is important.
Other than those interludes it was a wonderful day with perfect weather. 

I got some horrible and good paintings from the trip. I will show the good one.