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.

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