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Marey’s 3D Zoetrope


A Zoetrope is an optical device used to create the illusion of movement. In 1887 the French cinematographic innovator Etienne-Jules Marey introduced a variation of the zoetrope by replacing the flat images inside the drum with plaster sculptures of a bird in flight.

Etienne-Jules Marey was born in France in 1830. As well as being a scientist,  physiologist and photographer, he also developed techniques applied in film-making. When studying how to record the phases of movement, he invented a “chonophotographic gun” allowing him to take 12 consecutive frames per second, which were recorded on to a turning glass disc without having to use several cameras. But in 1882 Morey abandoned his photographic gun and invented a fixed plate camera equipped with a synchronized shutter, with which he suceeded in recording in a single image sequential phases of a movement. This technique is known as “chronohotography”.

He later improved his invention by replacing the glass plate with a long strip of paper. Shortly after, the sensitized paper strip was replaced by a transparent resistent celluloid film, invented by the Americans Hannibal Goodwin and George Eastman.

The innovations proposed by Marey were extremely relevent in the technical development of cinema.