4-Mation Is an Interactive 3D Zoetrope That Produces Astounding Animations

The zoetrope was a mid-1800s invention that allowed the viewing of moving pictures through a rotating drum and vertical slits. While HDTV and 3D movies have long since made the zoetrope into a relic of the past, Kevin Holmes has come up with a new take on this technology that is nothing short of incredible: 4-Mation.

Instead of a slit used to view a series of 2D images, this 3D zoetrope instead uses strobe lighting to freeze each scene in place. 20 progressive scenes are physically formed on slices of the rotating platform, enabling 72 frames to play out a three-second story at 24 frames per second… If the math doesn’t sound quite right, that’s because each frame actually shows several progressive frames in one, allowing for the multiplexing of 3D frames that is explained in the second video below.

4-Mation is certainly a neat project, and a good overview is seen in the first video, but if you’d like to have one of your own, Holmes is now offering these devices on Kickstarter. Pledge rewards vary from basic DIY kits, all the way up to an assembled exhibit version in walnut. The 4-Mation can even be fitted with a PIR motion sensor to automatically start the sequence!


4-Mation Is an Interactive 3D Zoetrope That Produces Astounding Animations was originally published in Hackster Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Jeremy S. Cook