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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'*

For this application the Megascope lens is mounted on the fantascope. With this adaptation the name of the apparatus simply changes into Megascope (better known as an episcope) The idea for this peculiar technique and fantasmagoria application was inspired by Jacques Alexandre César Charles (1746-1823), who originally used the megascope for scientific purposes during lectures.

One of the earliest references to Megascope projection, 1756, was applied by the German physicist Leonard Euler (1707-83) Most people are familiar with the episcope as a means of projecting two-dimensional images (engravings, prints, books, photographs, …) However, less known is the more spectacular use of the apparatus to project/reflect 3-dimensional objects (e.g. animated puppets) with in a decor (background) See decor adaptor in left image

Click fantascope engraving above right 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.

In both cases the projected / reflected image of the “original” (flat or three-dimensional) inside the megascope is shown in the original colours, because the virtual image is nothing more than a reflection of the object itself, focused through a bi-convex lens. In the same way, the image of nature is reproduced inside a camera (or a camera obscura if a peephole is used instead of a lens.

Suchlike "opaque projections" of objects create the illusion of 3-D on the screen in full color. This is realy, both, unexpected & spectacular to see. Mouve mouse over image to see an engraving from the
Hauch's Physiske Cabinet in Denmark ©


This knowledge enables us also to project less obvious “objects” because each megascope is simply a reversed camera obscura working with artificial light in a controlled environment.
After some trial and error it is possible to project an upright “living head” or “face” on the screen.

In our example, the skeleton-marionette is situated upside-down inside the lanternhouse of the megascope. This gives an upright image on the screen. The lens used to focus the reflected light needs to be much brighter (with a wider aperture) compared with common projector lenses for translucent originals, because the light output is much less and this essential compensation is needed in order to achieve sufficient clarity of the opaque image.

The optical element in the Moisse megascope lens is a simple bi-convex lens of 15 centimetres in diameter, as explained and illustrated in Molteni’s : “Instructions Pratique sur l’emploi des Appareils de Projection, Lanterne Magique, Fantasmagorie, Polyorama” fourth edition [1892]. See image above right.

Judged by today’s projection standards, this optical inferior lens configuration has yet again a big advantage when it is used for the projection of animated 3-D fantasmagoria marionettes - for the same reasons given earlier for multiple glass slides and single glass slides painted on both sides.

The limited depth of focus obtainable from the subject (marionette) with such a wide-aperture lens is guaranteed to produce an “authentic” graveyard scene; the fact that only one plane can be in focus at any one time is what gives the illusion of depth!
See more Opaque Projection examples.

Download a bibliography for the Moisse Fantascope in PDF format


It is possible to enclose large objects inside the megascope lamphouse, but in order to obtain an excellent result it may be necessary to adapt the design of the projection accessory.
In easy terms, the object schould not be too bulky or too thick.

On the other hand, a lot of “objects trouvés” work very well in the megascope, such as a real human skull as used by medical students to study anatomy.

Due to the limited depth of field, the focused parts of the projected image appear to be situated between other parts that are either more or less in focus. This creates an illusion of depth when projected on a two-dimensional screen or smoke curtain.


Another amazing property of the megascope technique is its surprisingly authentic reproduction of the surface of an object:
See the next page of
The projection of opaque objects. or visit Opaque Projection examples from The Hauch Cabinet
Click here to see and read about military use of the Phantasmagoria during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution

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

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