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Moving phenakistoscope image


Hello everyone,

I hope that you had fun while I was away and that you aren't too hot at the moment.

This week we're looking at various activities that use persistence of vision to fool your brain. Most of these involve either looking at still images in quick succession which makes them look like they are moving or combining two images together into a single picture.

Warning - this blog has a lot of complicated names for things that are actually relatively straightforward when you see them working!

Take a look at this video for a nice description and some ideas for creating your own flip books - he uses a special light box to help him trace images, but you could make a very simple light box by putting a torch or white bike light into a shallow clear plastic storage box/takeaway container and leaning on the lid.

Phenakistoscopes (told you!) could be used to create apparently moving images, such as the one of the couple dancing shown above.  They use a vertical spinning disk and a mirror and are relatively simple to build.  There are plenty of images available to print out on the web if you search for 'phenakistoscope discs' including the ones on this page which has an alternative method of building a phenakistoscope.  Alternatively have a go at designing your own.

Zoetrope at Leeds Industrial Museum - Photograph by Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. ( at Leeds Industrial Museum - Photograph by Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. (

Similar to the phenakistoscope are zoetropes, such as the one above, which, again, you can make yourself.  This build it yourself version uses CD/DVDs in its construction (or works even better with an old cd storage holder, if you have one).  Similar to the phenakistoscope, many images can be found online that will work with your creation, but it's also fun to come up with your own versions.

Thaumatropes (this is the last one with a complicated name, I promise) where you only have two pictures that are combined into one (eg A fish and a bowl or a bird and a cage) are easy to build and can be created using a pencil or straw which you roll between your hands as shown in these instructions or you can spin them on a string as shown in these ones.

This site has a nice stop motion activity to try at home this uses an iPad but you can use a smart phone, tablet or other digital camera and find equivalent apps to create your masterpiece.

 And finally, some rather hot kittens. 

See you next week.

Kittens lying on a bed