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Animation Art Design History

155 Years Before the First Animated Gif, Joseph Plateau Set Images in Motion with the Phenakistoscope

October 17, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Nearly 155 years before CompuServe debuted the first animated gif in 1987, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau unveiled an invention called the Phenakistoscope, a device that is largely considered to be the first mechanism for true animation. The simple gadget relied on the persistence of vision principle to display the illusion of images in motion. Via Juxtapoz:

The phenakistoscope used a spinning disc attached vertically to a handle. Arrayed around the disc’s center were a series of drawings showing phases of the animation, and cut through it were a series of equally spaced radial slits. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc’s reflection in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images kept them from simply blurring together, so that the user would see a rapid succession of images that appeared to be a single moving picture.

Though Plateau is credited with inventing the device, there were numerous other mathematicians and physicists who were working on similar ideas around the same time, and even they were building on the works of Greek mathematician Euclid and Sir Isaac Newton who had also identified principles behind the phenakistoscope.
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Courtesy the Richard Balzer Collection

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Courtesy the Richard Balzer Collection

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The moving image was only viewable through a narrow slit. Via Wikimedia Commons

So what kinds of things did people want to see animated as they peered into these curious motion devices? Lions eating people. Women morphing into witches. And some other pretty wild and psychedelic imagery, not unlike animated gifs today. Included here is a random selection of some of the first animated images, several of which are courtesy The Richard Balzer Collection who has been painstakingly digitizing old phenakistoscopes over on their Tumblr. (via Juxtapoz, 2headedsnake, thanks Brian!)

 

 



Art

Bizarre New Animated Gifs from Zach Dougherty

October 15, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Digital artist Zach Dougherty (previously) is back with a new round if really strange animated gifs, placing his strange amorphous and glitchy objects against ordinary backdrops. Let’s file this under “I don’t know what it is but I like it.” (via Ignant)

 

 



Photography

More of the Best Nature GIFs on the Web

August 14, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Back in February we first explored an ongoing project called Head Like an Orange (previously) by a Netherlands-based artist named Marinus who isolates key segments of nature films, often just a split second in length, and uses the footage to create beautiful, whimsical, and strangely poetic gifs. These are a few of my favorites from the last several months but you can see much more right here.

 

 



Photography

The Earth’s Seasonal “Heartbeat” as Seen from Space

August 8, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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We all know that as the seasons change on Earth, temperatures rise and fall, plants grow or die, ice forms or melts away. Perhaps nobody is more aware of this than NASA’s Visible Earth team who provide a vast catalog of images of our home planet as seen from space. Last month designer, cartographer, and dataviz expert John Nelson download a sequence of twelve cloud-free satellite imagery mosaics of Earth, one from each month, and then created a number of vivid animated gifs showing the seasonal changes in vegetation and land ice around the world.

Despite having encountered numerous seasonal timelapse videos shot here on Earth, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this visualized on such a large scale from space. It really looks like a heartbeat or the action of breathing. Read more over on Nelson’s blog, or see a much larger version of the gif here. (via Co.Design)

 

 



Art

New Mind-Warping Animated GIF Art from Paolo Čeric

August 8, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Digital artist Paolo Čeric (previously) continues to crank out some of the most elegant and bizarre gifs I’ve seen lately. The Croatian artist relies on software like Cinema 4D, After Effects, and a programing language called Processing, as well as a wild imagination to strange forms that wobble and twist with energy. See more recent animations on his Tumblr.

 

 



Animation Design

Hypnotic Animated GIFs from Mat Lucas

July 25, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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UK-based artist Mat Lucas works by day as a graphic designer and by night runs a Tumblr of experimental art called 89—A. Lucas tells me that many of his GIFs begin as a problem he’s facing while learning various graphics and video applications like Cinema4D, After Effects, and Photoshop. The byproduct of his experimentation are often ethereal geometric forms that pulsate, rotate and contract in various hypnotic patterns. Above are some of my favorite pieces but you can see much more here. If you liked this also check out the work of Matthew DiVito and Paolo Čerić.

 

 



Art Design

Classical Greek Sculpture GIFs by Zach
Dougherty

June 19, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Digital artist Zach Dougherty takes classical Greek statues and then digitizes them into glitchy, geometric GIFs. These are a few of my favorites but you can see more over on his Tumblr, Hateplow.

 

 

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