Phenakistiscope


THE VERY FIRST COMIC STRIPS!

Another forerunner of motion pictures, this optical device was invented by the Belgian physician Joseph-Antoine Ferdinand Plateau in 1832 to demonstrate the Persistence of Vision theory. At the same time, in Austria, the mathematician Simon von Stampfer invented his stroboscopic disc, a very similar contraption. Both were based on the revolving wheel invented by the British physician Michael Farraday two years earlier. Coming after the Thaumatrope and before the Zoetrope, this was the first device to succeed in clearly producing the illusion of motion. The sequence of consecutive images with slight variations (as if they were the parts a movement is divided into) was a breakthrough which eventually developed into the series of frames that make up motion-picture films. In fact, shortly after this, Plateau discovered that sixteen images are needed to achieve a perfect illusion of movement, which is precisely the number of frames per second used in the very first motion pictures. Subsequently, with the advent of synchronized sound, it was established that there should be 24 frames per second; this is maintained to the present day. The mechanism is both simple and ingenious: When you turn the wheel and look through a hole, you can see in motion the image reflected in a mirror facing you. The Phenakistiscope shown here is a disc illustrated by Eadweard Muybridge in 1893.

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Phenakistoscope