In 1872, Edweard Muybridge was hired to film a trotting horse at high speed to help settle the argument “During a trot are all 4 feet of a horse ever off the ground at the same time?”. The human eye could not break down the motion of the horse’s feet fast enough to truly determine if this was the case. New advances in photographic equipment at the time made it possible, and Muybridge’s now classic slow motion animation of a horse trotting and galloping finally answered the question. Yes, all four feet of a horse come off the ground while trotting and galloping.
Last year (2014), artist Kelly Egan wanted to play with updating the classic animation machine, the Zoetrope, with modern techniques and pay homage to Muybridge’s work in the process. Kelly’s 3D printed zoetrope dubbed the PonyTrope was created to be part of 3D Printing Providence’s showing at World Maker Faire 2014. Now Kelly has created an excellent writeup about his process for creating the zoetrope and has shared all of his files so others can make one themselves.
The PonyTrope consists of 12 3D printed horses, each posed in a different state of gallop. These are spun on a central hub, while an arduino times the flashing of a high intensity LED. This stroboscopic effect causes the viewer to see the horses only at set positions in their spin, causing them to appear to be running. The effect in a dark room is nothing short of stunning and will nearly trick you into believing that there are 12 tiny horses running on the table in front of you.
Kelly has plans to develop this process further and is working on other animations. I look forward to seeing more of these lovely animated sculptures.