Articles, Blog

Pre-Cinema Lecture


hello I’m Jeremy Bessoff and welcome to
art 3550 animation for summer online session – where should we begin? well I
think we should start at the beginning. this lecture is going to focus on pre
cinema animation which is animation that is made before automated mechanical
reproduction ie the camera and movie projector. in order to understand how
animation works on a fundamental level we’ll briefly look at how motion is
perceived in human vision and how we can manipulate it. then we’ll take a look at
some devices that predate cinema. this will help us understand that we can
break motion down into workable chunks that called frames. then we’ll hear from
a preeminent film scholar Tom gunning on the rise of projected imagery as a mass
consumable product starting with the magic lantern. we’ll then talk briefly
about thaumatropes zoetrope kinographs praxinoscope sand mutascopes oh my! and
if you don’t know what those are we’ll be describing them in detail in a few
slides. once this section is finished we’ll move
on to building your own scientific instrument / toy to demonstrate the
building blocks with a mechanical illusion of life with your very own
Thaumatrope. ready oh let’s go so before we can begin understanding what
animation is let’s first touch on how our brains perceive the idea of motion.
so what is this phenomenon of experience motion and how does it work in film and
animation? well first let’s find out about what motion perception is not. once
we have the fiction out of the way we can focus on a quick bit of
scientific fact. you may have heard of the theory called the persistence of
vision. it’s it’s an early theory which has been refuted. so when you hear
someone talking about persistence of vision you can gently remind them that
it was refuted around 1914. when people are talking about persistence of vision
their theory states that images persist in the vision system during the
intervals in between frames with air by causing them to be perceived as
continuous. so what that saying is it’s imagining an image projected in your eye
and then staying in your eye until the next frame is introduced. well it just
doesn’t really work that way. the major piece of evidence against the
persistence of vision is the phi phenomenon
the major piece of evidence against the persistence of vision is the phi
phenomenon. in order to simplify rather complex physiological process let’s
break it down into two small elements. number one the phi phenomenon itself
and number two something called beta movement. the Phi phenomenon is an optical
illusion and what it’s doing is it allows us to see motion in things that
don’t move. so we’re perceiving continuous motion
between separate objects viewed in rapid succession. when we change a still image
in the same place in rapid succession we get the illusion of motion. what’s
important to remember in the Phi phenomenon is that motion the motion of
the rapidly changing image has to happen in the same physical space. so think
about the projection of a piece of celluloid or actual physical movie film
there are 24 images changing every second in the same space to convince us
there’s motion. so let’s look at an example let’s take a look at what a
thaumatrope is so we can physically see this phenomenon in action. here it is
folks.. the Thaumatrope! its name roughly translates as Wonder Turner and it comes
from the ancient Greek wonder and in turn you can also interpret it as
turning marvel. it’s construction as you can see is terribly simple. it’s just a
paper disc with one image on either side and then rotated rapidly.
it’s often been credited to the astronomer Sir John Herschel. but as
we’ll see in a second or two he was about thirty thousand years too late
because his version of the Thaumatrope as we know it came out around 1825. let’s
stay in the common era for now. there’s still some debate however of which
gentleman was the quote unquote first inventor. Herschel may have invented it
but it was a well-known London physicist dr. John a Paris who made this toy
popular. he was also the person that mass-produced the Thaumatrope object–
and made it possible for the average person to experience the wonders of
motion. let’s take a quick trip back in time about 30,000 years or so and let’s
check out some ancient cave drawings in France. the images that you see here were
drawn by prehistoric Stone Age artists. and what’s really remarkable about them
is the fact that they didn’t just draw multiple animals they attempted to draw
the same animal in motion. so these cave people were trying to make cartoons
30,000 years ago with nothing but burnt sticks scratched into a cave wall. from
an article on seeker dot com it says researchers by about 30,000 years ago
Paleolithic artists used animation effects and quotes in their paintings to
render the movement that deconstructed it in successive images. which if you’ve
been paying attention sounds a lot like a frame to me. a corner the researchers
this would explain multiple heads or lame zones in cave paintings
the researchers suggests that prehistoric man or one foreshadowed one
of the fundamental characteristics of visual perception. it said that when the paintings are
viewed by flickering torchlight the animated effect achieved its full impact.
meaning the pictures come alive with fire. which is another way to say
projected light. and you’re probably not gonna believe
this but researchers found a Thaumatrope made out of bone in one of the
caves. it’s a bone carved into a disc with animals scratched into both sides.
now the animals are shown in different positions it looks like it may be
running or lying down. and if we rotate it quickly like a Thaumatrope
we’ve got animation. so cave people 30,000 years ago we’re doing animation. Wow. now
we won’t spend much more time on this but but if you want more prehistoric
action and an in-depth tour of the caves check out Cave of Forgotten Dreams by
Werner Herzog. if you haven’t watched any of his films he’s amazing
weird and very entertaining on an existential level. so now that we’ve got phi out of the
way let’s talk about bata movement. it’s very simple. imagine you’re in downtown
Chicago looking the Chicago theater at night. you stand transfixed in front of this
glowing monolith and the light seemed to move and pulse and live. they seem to be
running around with a sign defining the sign. this is an excellent example of
Beta Beta movement. as opposed to phi phenomena is the optical illusion of
perceiving movement between separate objects in physical space and time so
with the phi we had an image being replaced in the
same space rapidly. here the image or light in this case is simply blinking on
and off in a series predetermined patterns. so what’s happening is the
light or image is not staying in a fixed single place
like a movie projector would work or a video screen. in this case it’s a series
of lights sequenced in space. meaning that there are our light bulbs spaced
one next to each other and they light up in sequence. for example the first one
lights up then goes dark. the second one lights up and goes dark.
the third one lights up you guessed it goes dark and the next one turns on.
you’ll be familiar with this kind of movement the beta movement through
animated neon signs and movie marquees. it’s really all around you. for this
class we won’t be focusing on the beta movement. we’ll just be looking at the
five phenomenon. but I wanted you to be familiar with the two types of the kind
of animation perspective we can have in our toolbox before we go any further on
our tour of pre cinema devices. I’d like to jump in the Wayback Machine again not
30,000 years just a hundred or so and talk about the magic lantern. to mix
things up a little I’m going to let Tom gunning the preeminent film scholar
explain to you what a magic lantern is how it worked and why it’s an important
apparatus to be familiar with during our tour of pre cinema objects. so without
further ado pause this presentation and take a look at the link presentiment to
Gunning02 located in the weekly content section blackboard. and we’re back and
hopefully you know everything there is to know about magic lanterns. let’s take
a look at the phenakistoscope from 1829. the etymology comes from the Greek Finnick keys in and please excuse my
Greek pronunciation. it means to deceive or cheat. the idea of it is it deceives
the eye by making the objects in the pictures appear to move. take a look at
figure P on the slide presentation to see how the Phenakistascope was actually
used back in 1829. we’ll see more of this in action as Disney demonstrates it to
us in a later video. it uses a spinning disk attached
vertically to a handle. arrayed around the disks Center were a series of
drawings showing phases of the animation. and cut through it where a series of
equally spaced radial slits. the user would spin the disc and look through the
moving slits at the disks reflection in the mirror. the scanning of the slits
across the reflected images kept them from simply blurring together so that
the user would see a rapid succession of images that appeared to be a single
moving picture. the slits function as a sort of rudimentary
shutter. in this video example that’s playing the phenakistoscope has been
animated digitally to eschew the use in this video example the phenakistoscope
has been animated digitally to eschew the use of a mirror and handle. it’s nice
we can just see it digitally on the screen. unlike zoetrope and possibly
Thaumatrope the phenakistoscope could only practically be used by one person
at a time. so that is the sticking point with this technology. it’s a solo show.
there’s no communal watching in this case. and now the flip book everybody is
probably familiar with this one when you were doodling in the corners of your
math book making someone jump off a diving board or something. the first flip
book appeared in 1868 and was patented by a guy named John Barnes Lynette. he
patented under the name Kinograph which literally means moving picture. these
were the first form of animation to employ a linear sequence of images
rather than a circular one such as in the older phenakistoscope. check out the
link for a modern and very wacky take on the Kineograph. the zoetrope this is
when things start to get really interesting.
much like the Thaumatrope the zoetrope was thought to be originally created way
before the Western world discovered it. It was created in China around 180 AD by
the inventor Ting Quan. please excuse my Chinese pronunciation. Ting Quan’s device
was driven by convection which means that there was a heat source, most likely
candles that hung over a lamp that he called the Chu hua chick Quan. which
means the pipe that makes fantasies appear the air turned vanes at the top
from which translucent paper or mica panels hung. when the device was spun at
the right speed the pictures painted on the panels would appear to move. don’t
have a picture of this one just a description so if anybody has one please
send it my way. the modern zoetrope was invented in 1833 by British
mathematician William George Horner he called it the date alone most likely as
a reference to the Greek myth of Daedalus. though it was popularly
referred to as the wheel of the devil everything people don’t understand they
attributed to the devil. well the date failed to become popular until the
1860s when it was patented by both English and American makers including
the game company Milton Bradley. what’s really cool about the zoetrope
technology is it allows for some fun modern interpretations of it in 3d. so we
can take 3d objects in an animated sequence and place it on a turntable. if
you light it with a strobe light and the turntable strobe light acts as the
shutter for bringing the animated sequence alive. check out the link pre
cinema for a zoetrope for a really cool example of the 3ds zoetrope in
action of the praxinoscope. the word praxinoscope translates roughly as
action viewer from the greek the praxinoscope as an animation device was
the successor to the zoetrope. it was invented in France in 1877 by a gent
Charles and me run out like the zoetrope. it used a strip of paper placed around
the inner surface of a spinning cylinder and that paper had a sequence of images
on it. the praxinoscope improved on the zoetrope by replacing its narrow viewing
slits with an inner circle of mirrors placed so that the reflections of the
pictures appeared more or less stationary in position. as the wheel
turned someone looking in the mirrors would therefore see a rapid succession
of images producing the illusion of motion with a brighter and less
distorted picture than its predecessor the zoetrope. a little later on Renault
built a large-scale projectable praxinoscope. it was with this device
that that he performed the very first public performance of animation and
we’ll see Renault in action in a moment. let’s do the pause and play thing and
check out the pre cinema 5 link. there you’re gonna see an actual
representation of what the performance of the praxinoscope may it look like.
it’s recorded from the original cells of the animation. and last but not least
let’s talk about the Mutoscope the Mutoscope was an early motion
picture device patented by Herman Kessler in 1894. like its competitor
Edison’s Kinetoscope which we didn’t look at does not project on a screen and
it only provides viewing for one person at a time. the American Mutoscope
company later named American Mutoscope and biographic company quickly
dominated the coin in the slot Peep Show business. yes that’s right. for a small
fee you can see some smut. Mutoscopes were a popular feature of amusement
arcades and pleasure peers in the UK until the introduction of decimal
coinage which killed it in 1971. the coin mechanisms were difficult to convert and
many of the machines were subsequently destroyed. some were exported to
Denmark where pornography had recently been legalized. the typical arcade
installation included multiple machines offering a mix of genres for your
pleasure. mixture usually included girlie reels
which ran the gamut from risque to outright softcore porn. it was however
common for these reasons to have suggestive titles that implied more than
the real actually delivered. the title of one such reel called what the butler saw
became a catch word and Mutoscopes and Mutoscope since then are commonly
known in the UK as what the butler saw machines. what did the butler see let’s
take a look through the keyhole and find out. Lets switch tones now from the
lascivious what the butler saw to the down-home family fun of Disney through
the following link. Disney is going to give you a really
brief tour of the animation toys that we just
talked about. it’s from a TV show called Disneyland that aired in the late 50s
early 60s. and once you’re done watching go ahead and take quiz one.it won’t be too
tough. ten questions multiple choice true/false super easy. okay.
good luck and see you in the next video.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *