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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'*

Mouve mouse over tomb

The other amazing property of the megascope opaque projection
technique is it's surprisingly authentic reproduction of the surface
of an object.

For this reason megascope projection is much more realistic than
slide projection. You get the impression that you would be able to
"feel the texture" of the original material if you were to reach out and
touch the virtual screen, no matter what the consistency: wood, stone,
bone, tissue, … or even a daguerreotype or hologram!

The above fact suggests that changing shadows and reflections,
caused by the manipulation of the object, are equally realistic on
the screen as when seen the original directly. This manipulation
during projection heightens the illusion of depth because it enables
us to see different angles and parts of the object which are never
all visible at the same time. This effect is similar to observing a
hologram, visible from different angles by changing your position.

 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.

 It is interesting to note that projecting a hologram using the Moisse Megascope is possible!

Unfortunately, the real binocular depth information of the hologram will disappear in the projected image. We see the hologram as viewed by one eye. A direct life view of the hologram has the advantage of binocular depth perception, similar to a stereoscopic photograph but with a multiplicity of depth information.

This kind of depth perception is certainly not the case for the projected image from the megascope. Nevertheless, the latter technique is able to reproduce several other Illusions on the screen that result in different but equally interesting depth illusions.These Illusions are:

- View of different angles & parts of the object caused by manipulation
- Limited depth of field creating a depht illusion
- Overlapping of details, changing position of different parts of the object.


I believe in the importance of the respective roles of these properties in creating the depth illusion. This, however, can be achieved only with the help of the most important property: The genuine features / textures of the original reproduced on the screen! This virtually experienced quality is not related to the technical quality of the image on the screen which is - I confess with pleasure! - mediocre, due to the use of an optically inferior lens. Such a lens is perfectly suitable because we deliberately do NOT want to create a “high definition ghost”.
The ultimate effect of all the above is a “perfect” animated projected image with the described qualities of movement, colour, and changing focal depth - in other words, cinema before cinema was invented!

This experience is obtained without the use of present-day filmmaking techniques because these were, of course, still in the realm of the future. Be that as it may, such techniques are superfluous for obtaining the most striking and convincing images. In theory the megascope is even better than film apparatus (at twenty-four images per second) for reproducing reality, because the number of sampled images is not limited in such a way, but is infinite!

Hence, film enthusiasts will be relieved to read that the projection of opaque objects has a serious limitations in subject matter and working scenarios. This makes the interpretation of both a number one priority for any succesfull presentation. Fortunately, we lanternists still have the "magic" at our disposal!
See more
Opaque Projection examples.


A most intriguing and less expected projection accessory is the above depicted animated marionette representing a skeleton opening his tomb. A wooden decor-adapter, see the first page of Opaque Projection, is fixed inside the fantascope/megascope in order to project such marionettes, backed.by a variety  of different

decors; for example, a graveyard. The Moisse Fantascope / Megascope is equipped with a very similar decor adapter.A special copper hook enabled the fantasmagore (lanternist) to open and close the curtain in front of the opaque scene in order to unveil the decor without any light escaping from the apparatus.
Download a bibliography for the Moisse Fantascope in PDF format

Due to the rarity of the marionette, some further explanation is essential. This intriguing projection puppet, still in mint condition, was previously known only from prints in contemporary books and catalogues; for example Molteni’s catalogue Appareilles et accessoires pour projection, and a book by the same manufacturer, Instruction pratique sur l’emploi des appareils de projection, lanterne magique, fantasmagorie, polyorama (1892 fourth edition). The same illustrations where used by l’Abbé Moigno in his book L’Art de projection (1872). A comparable marionette, of the same subject but of another design/mechanism and origin, is in the collection at the Conservatoire National des Art et Métiers in Paris, together with several other curious fantasmagoria accessories. Furthermore, a winged hourglass is painted on the tomb of the Moisse skeleton tomb, exactly as depicted in the illustrations used both by Molteni and l’Abbé Moigno for their respective catalogues/books.

This fantasmagoric pictogram simply shows that time is running fast. Combined with the appearing skeleton, we understand that "death is coming sooner than we expect!" The tomb, initially closed, starts to open slowly, pushed by a bony hand. A skull begins to appear, wich turns towards the spectators and at the same time opens and closes its mouth as if to speak to the audience. Ventriloquists performed this task in total darkness in between the spectators.

A “lampe à moderateur” (invented by Franchot in 1837), the original illuminant for the fantascope found, in the Château de Moisse among the other accessories.

This type of illuminant put oil under pressure in order to obtain a maximum light output. The addition of a large concave mirror-reflector improves this effect.

For megascope projection, the object, a skeleton, is hung upside down inside the lantern house and strongly illuminated from both sides. To obtain the best result the background behind the skeleton is painted matt black to ensure there are no reflections, and hence no image on the screen without the presence of the marionette. The handles for manipulation are also darkened using the same paint.

All objects and decors appear in total darkness, and the virtual image and screen become one. Extra weak illuminants can play a role in the decor to obtain spectacular lighteffects. A small light projected directly through the lens and out of focus will give the desired effect.

It also demonstrate that the object's thickness is very limited, but both, the skeleton wooden body and ivory skull are 3-dimensional fine sculptures.

An almost identical projection marionette was discovered, a few years,  in a German collection.


This combination of indirect (reflected object) and direct (weak illuminant) projection enables us to create a real Gothic Horror scene. Thanks to these experiments I realised that the use of a decor [such as a graveyard scene in wich a skeleton (marionette) is digging with a scythe] in the megascope is an obvious improvement to the effect. The presence of a decor adapter in Molteni’s megascope confirms this conviction (see fig.74 of Molteni’s:

“Instructions pratiquesur l’emploi des appareils de projections"
The further presence of a similarly huge decor adapter in the Moisse megascope eliminates any remaining doubts about the use of suitable decors during the early part of the nineteenth Century. Unfortunately, no original decors were found accompanying the Moisse fantascope. They where probably distroyed in the previously mentioned fire where the destroyed daguerreotype was found, depicting a woman with a bonnet.



Visit Opaque Projection examples from The Hauch Cabinet or return to Phantasmagoria Introduction
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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