Interactive Media and Cinema

Interactive Media and Cinema track of The Goa Project 2016

Saumitra Mathur


Pre-Film Animation Techniques

Submitted Jan 14, 2016

To explore forms of pre-film animation techniques that produced the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings and photographs.


Well before the origin of motion picture, a number of devices emerged during the Victorian era that successfully displayed a notion of animation. These devices were used to entertain, amaze, and sometimes even frighten people. They were often categorized as toys as most of these devices could be experienced by a single person at any one time. Many of these devices are still built by and for film students learning the basic principles of animation.

At the workshop participants will engage in making three of such devices: Thaumatrope, Zoetrope and Praxinoscope.

A Thaumatrope is a toy that was popular in the 19th century. A disk with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to blend into one due to the persistence of vision.

A Zoetrope produced the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs showing progressive phases of that motion. It uses a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder, which gives a sense of animation when seen through narrow viewing slits.

The Praxinoscope improved on the Zoetrope by replacing its narrow viewing slits with an inner circle of mirrors, placed so that the reflections of the pictures appeared more or less stationary in position as the wheel turned. Someone looking in the mirrors would therefore see a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, with a brighter and less distorted picture than the zoetrope offered.

Duration: 45 minutes.

Speaker bio

Saumitra Mathur is a Graphic Designer, Animator and Multimedia Artist based in Bombay. He graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2007 with a MFA degree in Design and Technology, where his focus lingered between the realms of Interaction Design and Narrative Structures. He developed Tag, a series of interactive books at the Scholastic Corporation and also worked on various projects as an independent video artist in NYC.

After returning back to India he served at Ferriswheel, an agency in Bombay specializing in events and cultural exchange programs, as their Creative Head. Before moving to NY, Saumitra worked at Wizcraft where many of his designs were incorporated in the production of various events, including the prestigious IIFA Awards, First Afro-Asian Games and Fashion Awards.

Currently he is working on his first animated short film - Bike and Weed and teaching subjects related to Motion Graphics and Interaction Design at ISDI-Parsons, Bombay.


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