3D printed zoetrope shows walking and dancing people

Have you ever seen a zoetrope? This pre-film animation device, which was popular in the 19th century, is a cylinder with vertical slits in the sides. When you spin it around, the drawings on the inside seem to move. Of course, this is just an optical illusion, but it can still be mesmerising to watch, even in a time with so many animated movies to last you a lifetime. Especially if the zoetrope is a modernised, 3D printed version that uses light to show the moving picture. Japanese media artist Akinori Gato designed two of such zoetropes, one with a walking person and one with a dancing ballerina.

Instead of a cylindrical device with slots in the side, the zoetrope by Gato is a seemingly weirdly shaped coronet made of mesh. However, when you shine light on it from the side, the figures are revealed.

When spun around, the first zoetrope Gato made shows a picture of a walking person, while the second shows a dancing ballerina. Depending from where the light comes from, multiple figures can be shown.

Both models are called toki (time in Japanese). For the first model, Gato captured the movement of a person walking and translated it into a series of data, which was then turned into a repeating loop and 3D printed as a zoetrope. Goto then decided to upgrade his zoetrope model from a simple stroll to a ballet dancer.

It is much more fun to see the design in action than to read about it, though. Watch both mesmerising zoetropes in the videos below!


GIF via