What the hell is a 3D Zoetrope? I was wondering the same thing the first time I saw the word. Well… to put it in the simplest terms, a classic Zoetrope is a cylinder that has holes on its exterior. On the inside, it has many images. Once you turn the cylinder on its axis, and watch through the holes, you get an illusion of a moving image.
I think you can treat a Zoetrope as a low-tech animation device. To achieve the effect, what is really happening is that you only see a part of the images inside. Each image is slightly different than the previous one. Since the cylinder is turning, you get to see one portion of the image after the other and that creates the illusion of a moving image.
Fast forward a few decades, and people started creating a 3D Zoetrope. A 3D Zoetrope removed the need of the slits on the cylinder. Creating little sections of a scene or a figure, with small change between them and placing them on a big ring at constant gaps from each other created the same effect. Gazing at a specific section of the cylinder once it turns created the same amazing illusion. Only now, it was in 3D.
Akinori Goto, a media artist, took it one step forward. Akinori created a 3D printed Zoetrope. When you look at it in plain daylight, you can’t really understand what it is. But when you lit a part of it in a darker environment, you can see a moving figure. The movement of the figure seems like it is coming to life from total chaos. Akinori was able to place a lot more frames inside his Zoetrope. He rotated the axis of the figures he placed inside the cylinder. By doing so, we are seeing a much more fluent movement that gives the illusion of it coming to life. Akinori recently won 2 prestige prizes for his work in the Spiral Independent Creators Festival.
The actual process of him creating it, seems quite simple, as you can see in the video below. However simple it is, it still has a magical feeling embedded in it.
Check out his other projects on his Tumblr blog.