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Muy oh Muy

Use new technology and look at early motion picture devices to create one-off movies, says Bill Richmond.


A fun project combining digital camera work with web resources is to recreate the flickering images of the very early movie-makers, such as Eadweard Muybridge, the pioneer photographer. In 1879 he invented the zoopraxiscope, an early motion picture device that projected a loop of images, similar to a zoetrope.

Eadweard Muybridge produced a series of animated studies of animals and people walking, jumping and running. I have used his work to put together a demonstration that can be repeated by pupils, using Animator-9, a free package that will create animations as "animated gif" files.

You could use Photoshop to colour in his black and white images of horses or people. When the sequence in Animator-9 is complete make sure the "loop" box is tagged, then press the "preview" key and this will give an impressive customised movie. You can see an example I made at

Once his images have been used to demonstrate the principle, then line sketches, screenshots or scanned images can be used. The pupils can create digital images with the task of animation in mind - for example, taking a few photographs of a room, or a playground, or even a passing animal or person, without moving the camera. It makes a much more personalised result as well as extending the range of skills used in production.

Even drawings in MS-Paint can be recorded and saved as screenshots as they are being produced. These can be edited into the animation software with the simplest of sketches often giving amusing results.

Most cameras can take a series of pictures and will have settings to import them directly into your machine. The key to success is to have a story and to plan it with a storyboard (a sequence for shooting) before any images are taken.

Using the Muybridge as a starting theme at least gives everyone a single static viewingshooting position and a guaranteed good-looking follow-on between images.

Search for images by Eadweard Muybridge in

The National Gallery of Art's site in Washington DC features BRUSHster, an interactive painting facility (www.nga.govkids). It's a good illustration of what might be done within art lessons to show the progress of a piece of work.

Bill Richmond is an Advanced Skills Teacher in design and technology at Winton Arts and Media College in Bournemouth. Visit

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