with a Story
with a Story
we watch a movie, the continuous action we see on screen is a clever illusion
of movement. A movie is simply a collection of thousands of still pictures.
They fly by so fast that we do not see the individual movie.
In 1765, Frenchman Chevalier d'Arcy whirled a hot coal on the end of a
rope and suggested that the glowing coal made a bright circle in the dark
because its image persisted for about one tenth of a second. But his work
went unnoticed until the 1820s, when people used his discovery to make
toys and other forms of entertainment.
Michael Faraday showed how rotating objects appear to stop when seen through
slots in a spinning disk. The Phenakistoscope was a slotted disk printed
with a series of pictures. Each showed a moving subject such as an image
in a slightly different position. By spinning the disk in front of a mirror
and looking through the slots, viewers saw the movie reflected in rapid
sequence, which gave the illusion of movement.
The simplest toy based on the persistence of vision is the thaumatrope,
which first appeared in 1826. There are movie on both sides of the disk,
and spinning it on its tight string emerges the movie.
French inventor and animation pioneer Emile Reynaud created this device.
Like movie projectors, all moving-picture toys rely on intermittent viewing--the
viewer sees each picture only briefly. Most used a naroow slit to give
a brief glimpse of each picture, but this made the pictures dim and hard
to see. However, in Reynaud's praxinoscope, mirrors replaced the slits.
The reflected movie were then much brighter, and they blended together
to give a smoother impression of movement. It was a huge success.
Before the invention of the projector, picture sequences and very early
movies could be viewed only by one or, at most, two people at a time.
The most successful viewer was the Mutoscope, invented by American Herman
Casler. Inside was a series of cards with picutres of a moving subject.
Turning a handle flipped the cards, making the figure move. Early cards
showed mildly sexy pictures: a woman undressing was typical. The machines
often bore the placard "what the butler saw". They were for
adults only and offended 19th century society's morals, although tamer
than much of today's family television.