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The Moisse Fantascope and slides found a new permanent home and resides in the Qatar International Media Museum / IMM - QMA Qatar.

Qatar's International Media Museum
*'plans scrapped'*

The Moise Fantascope is seen left with his phantasmagoria lens.
This enables a most intriguing fantasmagoria application, a mechanical autofocus mechanism connected with the wheels of the apparatus.
This mechanical device is able to hold the projected image in focus, continuously, while projection distances are increased and decreased.
In order to achieve this the fantasmagoria lens is used, and connected to the wheel operated mechanism wich regulates the distance between the movable front lens and the fixed condenser. This results in a focused image on the screen regardless of the size of the projected devil or distance between the fantascope and the screen.
By increasing the distance between screen and fantascope during complete darkness, the result is the illusion of an approaching devil.

Download a bibliography for the Moisse Fantascope in PDF format

Click fantascopes to see more fantascope prints

The Fantascope is currently on display at the Cinémathèque Française in the permanent exhibition 'Passion Cinema'.

Fantascope & accessories was on display in Lanterne Magique et Film Peint a temporally exhibition organized by the Cinémathèque Française and Museo Nazionale Del Cinema.

The devil appear to be assaulting his audience! This illusion is enhanced because of total darkness. In this way the screen is invisible and no other reference-frames, such as walls or doors, are noticeable. In this distorted situation a large image creates the virtual reality experience of an extremely impending and near at hand devil, while a small image gives the impression of this ‘virtual screen/devil’ being further away!

Because the painted devil figure on the slide is surrounded by opaque black paint, the virtual screen and the ghost appear as one and the same, due to the pitch black room. All superfluous light is avoided by using this phantasmagoria painting technique. It really looks as if the devil is floating in space! This effect is perhaps the most important phantasmagoria technique. The latter is not used in the better known traditional magic lantern show.

Phantasmagoria projection is back-projection as seen in the illustration.
The fantascope & public were separeted by the translucent screen on which the Phantasmagore project his ghostly images. More typical phantasmagoria slides can be found on the Phantasmagoria slides page & Hauch's slide page

Ouvrez les Yeux Mondains, Voici votre Miroir

Je Meurs, Et vous Mourrez Peut-Être Avant ce soir

This illustration from,

"Instructions Pratique sur l'emploi des Appareils de Projection; Lanternes Magique, Fantasmagorie, Polyoramas Appareils pour l'einseignement et pour les agrandissement" shows the typical settings for a Phantasmagoria room.

By A. Molteni / Constructeur d'instruments d'Optique, de Physique, de Mathématiques et de Marine.

More suchlike illustrations can be found
Under construction!

Click here to see and read about peculiar military use of the Phantasmagoria shortly after the tumultuous days of the French Revolution, the Phantasmagoria era.

Visit also Paul Burns' 'The History of the Discovery of Cinemathography' for information on the Moise Fantascope.

It’s not surprising that the described mechanical autofocus never works faultlessely compared with a modern autofocus lens. But this imperfection is in fact a great advantage when producing “authentic” ghosts! With all due respect for projection apparatus in general, a technically perfect visual image is not always guaranteed to obtain the most “desirable”  effect. This is certainly the case for fantasmagoria applications, and even for a lot of good quality Magic lantern slides, no matter the subject. Furthermore, there exist many interesting precious slides of more than one glass layer, each with its own painted details and they all create their own illusion.

The ability to focus clearly on two or more glass layers is to some extent proof that the lens is of high technical quality, but it also eliminates the “magic” aspect of a slide/object. Even the best professional, full-size reproduction of a slide (the original of which may have images painted on both sides of the glass) has only a single layer and will therefore, when projected, not posses the “magic” possibilities of the original. Fortunately we lanternists all understand the above dilemma, because we collect Magic Lanterns & original slides and are familiar with their characteristic nineteenth-Century features.

The next page explains the principle of the mechanical autofocus.

See Phantasmagoria Slides examples from various collections Page I & Page II

Visit later the theme of death in literature: Danse macabre des Hommes et des femmes

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