Note the apparent flashing and "off" time in the following movies is a result of the synchronization of the scan frequency of the camera with the strobe frequency in the Autophenakistoscope
Click here for short movie.
Click here for another short movie.
While looking into the history of the moving picture, I recently came across a reference to a device called a Phenakistoscope. The Phenakistoscope is an early predecessor to the motion picture. By studying this device, it's easy to see how it has evolved into television and movies. Invented in 1831 by Joseph Plateau this device creates a moving picture from a sequence of still pictures. It is simply a disk with a sequence of pictures and strategically cut slots that creates the illusion of smooth motion when it is spun and viewed in a mirror.
In this project, I have combined this 19th century technology with 21st century technology to create the Autophenakistoscope. First I have motorized the Phenakistoscope disk to produce a smooth, controllable, rotation speed. Next, I have added a strobe with a user settable frequency. Between the motor control and the strobe frequency control, the user can experiment with persistence of vision and sympathetic frequencies that produce a number of interesting visual effects. Finally, I have added hardware to automatically synchronize the strobe with the disk by detecting when the slits pass by the infrared (IR) sender/receiver (using an Arduino and a simple C program). With the flip of a switch, the user can toggle between manual strobe control to micro-controller strobe control. The result is a fascinating learning experience in motion picture technology, electronics, and programming.
By building this project, you will connect with the 19th century origins of the motion picture and apply 21st century tools to improve the experience.