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3D-Printed Zoetropes Use Light to Bring Figures to Life

Japanese media artist Akinori Goto's translucent sculptures propel an early animation tool into the future.
Screencap via

The proto-animation tool known as the zoetrope takes on a new form thanks to the creative mind of Japanese media artist Akinori Goto and a little 3D-printed magic. A recent YouTube video, posted by user Ying Chai Su, shows one of Goto’s exquisite rotating zoetropes animating a small ballet dancer performing an ever-elegant leg lift. A nearby projector shoots sharp concentrated beams of light at the rotating wheel, illuminating the character’s narrow silhouette. As the wheel spins, the light traces the subject’s movements in a seamless analog animation.


Goto’s ballerina sculpture was submitted to the 2016 Spiral Independent Creators Festival, an open call design competition in Japan, where it won both the Runner up Grand Prix and the Audience Award. In a video posted to Goto’s Vimeo, the artist explains how he created the same effect for a previous project, toki, a sculpture that instead animates a walking figure. The video shows the step-by-step process Goto used to transform the traditional zoetrope model. First, he creates a two-dimensional time axis of a figure outline taking a two steps forward. He then converts this progression to a three-dimensional axis, placing it onto a vertical plane. That data is translated into a 3D computer graphic, or 3DCG, and morphed based on the fourth dimension, time. This model is then 3D-printed and placed on a motor powered rotating platform. Goto shines a projector onto to the rotating wire grid and a walking person appears. It’s as simple as that. Right? See for yourself.

toki- Process & WALK_short ver. from Akinori Goto on Vimeo.

Head over Akinori Goto's website for more.

Via Colossal, Prosthetic Knowledge


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