Taking the simple and making it sublime…

Because nothing encourages learning like actually doing, each student in HIST 389: the History of Animation is required to produce a short animation.

Now, a lot of students are probably going to want to do a zoetrope or another persistence-of-vision toy, because it seems like the most accessible, simple technique. There’s no software or camera concerns– it seems like something a kid could do:

But just because the basic principle is simple doesn’t mean that the application of the principle needs to be simplistic. The following film uses the basic zoetrope technology to create something really powerful and beautiful.

(Watch it in hi res for maximum effect.)


Animator Eric Dyer, of Baltimore, spent a period of time biking around the city of Copenhagen, shooting things he saw. He then took the images and built a series of zoetrope-type devices using them. Finally, he filmed the results.

Here’s what his set-up looked like:

I think the project is amazing, both just because it’s visually beautiful and moving, and because it is such a fascinating reinterpretation of an old technology. In the below interview he describes his next project as involving hand-painted objects designed on a computer and printed out using a 3-D printer, and finally animated using the zoetrope technique. It’s a fascinating idea that, if it’s executed as well as “The Copenhagen Cycles,” will likely be stunning to see.