Day 9: Stop motion animation, Persistence of Vision and the Thaumatrope

Today I started working individually with the children. I am helping them to complete their ”forest creature” by attaching the finished wings to the body. We then animate these wings using stop motion techniques. The creatures are animated against a light table.

We only got through about 6 people today. The process will be ongoing over the next few sessions.

Before I started working with them to animate these creatures, I reminded them about the process. (I’d given an overview last week). I also demonstrated the principle of persistence of vision. This enables us to perceive a series of changing things as moving, or as constituting some sort of illusion. It is achieved through the rapid succession of images, each of which persists as something called an ”afterimage” (which seems to stay on your eyes like an image of a bright light remains on your retina after you close your eyes). In this way a ‘blend’ occurs with the next image. A sustained, continuous illusion of an object that seems to move or of a bird that seems to be sitting on a branch (below) can be created in this way.

I demonstrated this by showing them the Thaumatrope and providing them with simple materials to make one. They will be able to continue working on their Thaumatropes over the next few sessions, individually. Its a fun exercise…

Bird Thaumatrope

There are many examples of Thaumatropes available online. I find the Bird Thaumatrope designed by Joel M quite beautiful. It can be downloaded here for printing out, cutting out and gluing onto a round stick, such as a pencil. Of course I’m very excited by what the children will come up with to draw on theirs – the limit here is only their imagination!

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