ANIMATED PROJECTION BEFORE THE INVENTION OF CINEMA
The Choreutoscope is one of the most
important devices in Pre-Cinematic history.
the first time, three decennia before
dawn of modern cinema, the Maltese-cross
mechanism and one-tooth gearwheel was
used to enable the fast subsequent projection
of slightly different painted "still"
image stands still; when the
mechanism is transporting the glass
plate, a synchronized guillotine
shutter avoid the light shining
Both events are the key solution for
creating the illusion of movement in
"lifeless" projected images.
A choreutoscope shows six, a film thousands still images, all one
by one placed for a very short time motionless
in front of the projecting lens.
The wondrous effect of bringing these lifeless images to live with
the aid of this key machanism results in an illusion of movement
thanks to the "Phi-
enabling our brain to fill in the missing parts.
persistence does exist but is not responsable
for the illusion of movement as thought by Joseph
Belgian scientist and inventor of the phenakistiscope,
the first (not projection) device able to show movement using sequential
images. Visual masking frees us from
this "persistence of vision" and enhance the illusion
of fluent movement on the screen.
Obviously, the Choreutoscope "film" is extreamely short
(only six images) and the mouvement
is poor due to the lack of sufficient speed between the change of
images caused by turning a hand operated crank-handle. However,
with this principle a major cinematographic technique (still
used in todays projectors) was born before the birth of modern
sketch for animated skeleton slide 1659
University Library Leiden, Netherlands |
Huygens 1659 animated skeleton sketch
A precursor of the Choreutoscope
A set with a series of different slide subjects was available for
projection with the choreutoscope. The mechanisme was used as a
magic lantern accessory and transformed the lantern into a Maltese-cross
See the "Devices
of Wonder" web site for an animated interactive
As in early themes for the magic lantern, the Choreutoscope slides
also adhered to the grotesque
and the macabre. It's worth mentioning and emphasize
the resemblance with Huygens' (1659) early sketch for the design
of an animated skeleton slide, 200 years before the choreutoscope's
similar and most popular subject. The "Dancing Skeleton"
The inspiration source for Huygens' "Dancing
Skeleton" was Holbein's "Dance
of Death". The
latter was based on the medieval fresco, the "Danse
Macabre" painted in Paris' now lost Cemetery
of the Innocents between 1424 and 1425.
as explained above, the Choreutoscope is a major pre-cinematic device,
this most clever mechanism was not the first instrument able to
project animated images on a screen. Ingenious designed magic lantern
slides conjured-up moving images on screens as well in smoke curtains
more than two century's before dangerous nitrate
images came to live subsequently replaced by acetate
& safety-film as we known them today. The current digital era
is threatening and fastly replacing the bearer of new and reproduced
vintage films. For this, pre-cinema is - and vintage film will become
- an important part of our social history. E-Mail Early
your interesting information.