Sunday, 30 January 2011

Capturing movement

How does a bird fly?

Look into the zoetrope, first from the side and then from above.

Through the slits, you can see a 3D animation of a flying seagull. From above, you will notice that the illusion is created by ten separate sculptures that depict the different phases of the wing strokes.

Human beings are not able to detect details in rapid motion. For example, the debate about whether or not all of a galloping trotting horse’s hooves lift off of the ground at the same time was not solved until 1877 using the photo series taken by Eadweard Muybridge. It was discovered that a horse is, indeed, entirely off the ground for a second when trotting.

The French √ątienne-Jules Marey (1830–1904) studied the physiology of living creatures and that which the eye does not have time to detect. His chronophotographic gun (1882) took 12 consecutive frames per second all on the same picture. With the help of the photos, Marey studied motion, but also illustrated it by placing sculptures he made inside a zoetrope. Marey’s gun was actually the first movie camera.

These sculptures are copies of those found in Marey’s zoetrope (1887), which is part of the collection stored at the National Technical Museum in Prague.

High speed cameras will allow us to photograph at a rate of up to 100,000 frames per second. This method is used to examine the details of movement, and is helpful, for example, in quality control; the camera can pick up deviations in a rapid production process.

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