Search results for 'zoetrope'

Inside Screen Worlds: the flip book booth

Five-year-old Samantha wants to know if she can make a movie without a camera. She asks us this as she stands outside the wonderful zoetrope section in ACMI’s Screen Worlds exhibition. The flurry of activity around her – people stream in and out of the ‘Matrix Time Slice’ nearby – hardly seems to affect her. She is happy to watch her siblings go for the live video experience.

Samantha loves movies, especially animated ones, but is not quite flipping for the video yet. So we ask her if she would like to make a `movie’ that she can create as easily as posing for a photo, can play anytime without the assistance of her parents, and can carry in her pocket.

She does not quite believe us, so we point her towards the open booth next to her, to the flip book booth in the Sensation section of Screen Worlds.

The flip book booth in Screen Worlds

Now, flip books are not new to us. They have been around since the 19th century, and were both storytelling machines and a source of entertainment. Known by many different names, including Cinema de poche, Folioscope, Thumb Book and Kineograph, the basic theory used in the flip book ultimately gave way to what we see in animation today.

A flip book is, simply put, a series of pictures or drawings. While at first glance it can look like any other photo book, it is the action of flipping that helps create the magical movie in it. Flipping the pages creates the illusion of movement, creating a movie-type effect.

Discovered in pre-cinema days, the theory behind the flip book was used in abundance during the early stages of cinema, as, for example, in Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope and the Kineograph invented by John Barnes Linnett.

Using the flip book booth

Using the flip book booth at ACMI

At ACMI, you, like Samantha, have the opportunity to create your own flip book more easily than ever before. All you need to do is record any action – solo or with a group of friends – at the flip book booth in Screen Worlds. Once you have done this, you can head to the ACMI Store. The ACMI staff will use your images to print out your very own flip book. All you need to do is use your creativity!

So what are you waiting for? Get flipping now.

– Lakshmi Balakrishnan

To make your very own flip book at home, take a look at our online flip book instructions (we created these for a competition in 2007!)

Screen Worlds is a free exhibition open daily from 10am-6pm at ACMI.

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Inside Screen Worlds: elaborate illusions

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (TM) zoetrope

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (TM) zoetrope at Screen Worlds

“OH…MY…GOD…!” just has to be the most overheard comment as Screen Worlds visitors first observe the magic that is The Zoetrope. What is a zoetrope? It is basically an elaborate optical illusion. ACMI’s zoetrope, tucked away in Screen World’s ‘Sensation’ area, is deceptively dull when it is still. It looks like a bizarre wedding cake, with hundreds of creatures and objects suspended on a circular, tiered structure. But when the music kicks in, the carousel starts to revolve and the strobe lights flash furiously. The magic begins! In a spectacular 3D optical illusion, the characters appear to come alive.

Zoetropes have a long and rich history. The word ‘zoetrope’ comes from the Greek words ‘zoe’ meaning ‘life’ and ‘tropos’ which means ‘turn’, so it can literally be taken to mean the ‘wheel of life’. From their earliest incarnations in China in around 180 A.D. through to the Praxinoscopes of the late 19th century, people have always been fascinated by the illusion of movement created by these devices, but now, in the 21st century, Zoetropes have taken another leap forward thanks to modern technology.

In 2001, Japan’s famous Studio Ghibli anime studio created the first essentially 3D ‘Bouncing Totoro’ zoetrope featuring characters from their 1988 hit film, My Neighbour Totoro (Tanori no Totoro). The zoetrope is housed in Ghibli Museum, Tokyo.

Ghibli Museum’s zoetrope inspired Pixar studios to design and create their own. Pixar’s zoetrope is based on characters from their 1995 animation classic Toy Story. This zoetrope was first displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art before travelling here to ACMI in 2007 as part of our blockbuster exhibition, Pixar: 20 Years of Animation. Pixar have since created two more 3D zoetropes – one is on display at Hong Kong Disneyland and one is at Disney’s California Adventure.

Toy Story zoetrope

ACMI visitors watch Pixar's 'Toy Story' zoetrope in action.

Of course, Pixar’s Toy Story zoetrope was not ACMI’s first glimpse of this kind of thing. In the 2006 exhibition Eyes, Lies and Illusions ACMI played host to a zoetrope-inspired installation, The Sound Before You Make It. Created by Sydney duo David Lawrey and Jaki Middleton, the installation featured plastic dancing zombies who appeared to come to life when Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ kicked in with the strobe lights. Check out Lawrey and Middleton’s website for a preview.

Zoetropes proved to be such a hit with ACMI visitors that we commissioned our very own zoetrope in 2009 based on the distinctly Australian cartoon character, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (TM), the star of a videogame series from Krome Studios. And so here it lives, our very own zoetrope in our permanent Screen Worlds exhibition, for all the world to see.

Two dedicated ACMI worker bees (volunteer, Pinky Watson and Visitor Services Officer, Mike Childs) are so delighted by the public reaction to the Screen Worlds zoetrope that they have documented their observations to share with you. Enjoy!

The music kicks in. The carousel starts to revolve, spinning slowly at first – and then the five strobe lights flash furiously, and the magic begins!

Three young French boys, backpacker types, watch. “Rock and Roll,” says one, and they all start to dance to the music.

The eyes and brain have been tricked, and the platypuses are diving into splashing barrels. Mice jump over and into puddles, and our hero, Ty, boomerang in hand, marches resolutely counter-clockwise on his latest mission.

“Look at the frog’s foot,” says a visitor. “Amazing. Awesome.”

Even the tiny crabs are dancing, little pincer claws tapping in time to the music.

It’s all an illusion, of course, but what fun.

A young couple with a little baby in arms – “Ooooh, beautiful, spinning lights, yes baby?” Over and over. Little baby couldn’t care less. Well, that’s babies for you!

Now, out come the cameras and the mobile phones. But the strobes have switched off, the music’s fading fast, and the spinning edifice is slowing down. Oh well, it’ll start up again soon.

An older man, a tourist, cold as ice. No intention of going in. With nothing else to do he entered. Not a word or even a smile. Back a few minutes later with wife and son. “You MUST see this”. Magic works in mysterious ways.

Age is no barrier to a sense of wonder where ACMI’s zoetrope is concerned. A young dude, baggy pants falling off, carrying a skateboard, hair ratted up and spiky. “Oh wow…I just want to touch the little mouse, don’t you?” he says to me.

Your place in life is no barrier either. A young woman, the corporate type with black, sensible-yet-stylish shoes and a briefcase shows her friends. “Oh dudes, don’t you think this is just AWESOME?” she cries, and starts dancing wildly, a la go go dancer.

– Pinky Watson and Mike Childs

Witness the magic of the zoetrope for yourself in ACMI’s free Screen Worlds exhibition, open daily from 10am to 6pm.

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Happy 1st Birthday Screen Worlds


The 'Emergence' section of Screen Worlds - well and truly emerged.

This week, ACMI’s permanent exhibition Screen Worlds: The Story of Film, Television & Digital Culture celebrates its first birthday! What a year it’s been! (more…)

Read full storyComments { 1 }