sTAMPFER DISCS AND PHENAKISTISCOPE DISCS
invented by Professor
invented by Professor
(1792-1864) are both the same inventions, done
indepentently by these two scientists.
The device was mentioned to be a
in creating the illusion of movement and how our eyes
are able to experience this.
For this reason, Plateau
Most cited with this honour is Joseph Antoine
un nouveau genre d'illusion d'optique",
Plateau describes the working of a disc with 16 slots
and images in between. This principle is one of the
major techniques which enabled us to produce "moving
starting at the end of the 19th. Century until today.
Both devices were able to create the illusion
of live more than 60 years before the
invention of film. However, this early
method of creating live in static
was not the first succesfull
attempt to show animated images. (e.g.
animated magic lantern slides, preceding
the phenakistiscope and the
Click the daguerreotype
to visit the Joseph Plateau collection
in the Science Museum, University of Ghent
here for links that guide you to the Plateau
A few years ago, the only known photograph
depicting Joseph Plateau was discovered
at the home of his descendants in France.
(see above right) Some further information
about this unique Plateau Daguerreotype,
made by Joseph Pelizzaro, can be read
on the first of a series of 4 Joseph Plateau
most thankfull to Professor Jos Uyttenhove
& Professor Maurice Dorikens
who kindly give permission to use images
from the world famous Joseph
collection. Joseph Plateau was
a scientist active in different fields.
"Early Visual Media" is very
pleased to be able in presenting Plateau's
work relevant to our interest field. More
information about this and other scientific
work by Plateau can be found in the exhibition
PLATEAU 1801-1833 Living between Art and
Science". Catalogue is in
Dutch, French & English. See the Phenakistiscope
page for order information of this unprecedented
Joseph Plateau study by Maurice Dorikens,
published in 2001.
More pages on this web site explain other
successful animations, especially in combination
with the Magic Lantern. The
The Stampfer discs (on
however, are of utmost importance in cinema's
pre-history since they precede the sequentional
succession of static images also used
in the hyper realistic movement of films
from the beginning until today. These
Living Pictures of today have many ingenious
While mentioned as a scientific device,
& Stampfer discs became well know
and popular as a toy for children.
This phenomenon is often seen in pre-cinema
items since several of them became popular
as amusements or toys. e.g. the
of Joseph Plateau & and the band for
a praxinoscope as depicted on the bottom
of this page.
The page on
images on this
web site explains scientific
amusements, using the
principles of perspective.
Although not often recognised,
the principles of anamorphic distortion
where also of utmost importance in several
major "pre-cinema" devices such as
Phenakistiscope, the Zootrope, the
This knowledge, however, was not always applied
in these toys. Due to the sequentional
succession of static images in early kinetic
toys the illusion is seen deformed.
For this reason, a good designed image for
use with (early) kinetic devices is always
anamorphic distorted, in a certain way, to
produce a normal image when seen in use.
Because of the fast development &
improvements of kinetic toys, the
anorthoscopic distortion of the drawings
became more and more superfluous. Especially
Phenakistiscope and the Zootrope this
correction can be necessary. Not so for the
The slots in both devices are
"windows" to the quickly changing images. In the
phenakistiscope, the image is seen indirectly via
the mirror when the opening is in front of the
eye. In the zootrope we see the image through a
similar slot on the opposite side of the drum. In
both cases, a lot of light (another problem) is
lost. But most of all, the images are seen
shortened, similar too low perspective views.
This loss of light, caused by the narrow openings,
is easily solved by using extra environmental
light. The "windows" need to be narrow to produce
an image with acceptable sharpness. The narrow
opening (e.g. diaphragma) quickly passes our eye similar to a
curtain shutter of a 35mm camera. Due to this, the
effect of shortening is caused.
Both problems where partly solved in the
Praxinoscope (and Theatre Praxinoscope) because
the "window" was replaced by a wider mirror
showing the whole image in frontal view.
See a working
phenakistiscope, or at the
Bill Douglas Centre.
Although Joseph Plateau is most
know for the invention of these
Kinetic discs, the 8 illustrations
(black background) are early
examples of the Simon Stampfer's
more info on Simon Stampfer