Going in circles

I’m probably going to do a higher quality run, but meanwhile here is a preliminary result of my little walking guys in action.

The photo below shows the basic set-up of the stop-action zoetrope. On the top left is a rotating stage. This stage is made of paper taped on top of foam core. Glued under the foam core is a little round spindle (you can’t see it in this shot) a little less than an inch in diameter.

On the bottom left of the photo is a support platform with a round hole in it just big enough to fit the spindle. When the stage is placed on the platform, it can rotate freely, but it can’t jiggle.

To the right you can see the little walking guys. This time we printed them out as one solid part on the 3D printer, so they would all be in the right position.

Unfortunately, one of the little guys — who was standing on one foot — broke off at the ankle after the part came out of the 3D printer. I super glued him back on, but he ended up tilting to one side. In the animation you can see this as a kind of wave going around the circle, as the tilted guy shows up in different positions.

Notice the radial lines on the rotating stage. These tell me how much to rotate the stage between successive animation frames. After photographing each frame, I rotate the stage by 1/11 of a circle. Over the course of one 12 frame animation cycle, each of the little guys has advanced 12/11 of a circle — ending up roughly in the position of the guy ahead of him.

The effect is as though each of the guys has walked forward a little ways around the circle. When you loop the animation, it looks as though all the little guys are marching continuously around the track.

The resulting animation below isn’t as good quality as what I’d like to end up with, but I thought I might as well show preliminary results. Because it’s an animated gif, the file is a bit large — almost 1MB. So if you have a slow connection, this might take a while to load:

And yes, the arms are swinging. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Going in circles”

  1. Wow wow wow!!!! Amazing!!!! My eyes and brain are struggling to understand why they can lift up their feet while you have fixed them on the circle (right?).

    Is this like distorting the past movements? Funny I’m just trying to do that at IRCAM, working on changing the past (by controlling the present)…

  2. It’s an illusion. At each successive frame of the animation, what looks like the same statue is actually a different statue. When you look at what appears to be one guy, you are actually seeing all of the statues in succession, one after another. Because I’m rotating the stage just the right amount, the illusion is created that it’s the same statue, magically animating. In reality you are actually seeing a succession of perfectly rigid statues frozen in different poses, that become visually superimposed by the rotation.

  3. Dear Ken

    I would love to use your animated gif in a presentation I am giving next week for my Social Work Masters. It will thus just be for a one off private purpose and I will of course reference your site when doing so. If you are OK with this and can email me the file I would be very greatful.


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