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Creating a 3D Printed Zoetrope with Blender


Kelly Egan used Blender and 3D Printing to create a zoetrope - a modern version of the old technique to create moving images.

A zoetrope is a pre-cinematic animation technique where a series of animation frames are placed inside a spinning cylinder. Slits in the drum make the frames of the animation visible for only a fraction of the second, as it spins the frames blink in and out of view with the passing of each slit.

My 3D zoetrope relies on the same principles but instead of flat 2D frames I am using 3D models and instead of the slits I use a strobing LED light to illuminate each frame for a fraction of a second. The strobe and slits are necessary to freeze the frames, otherwise you would just see a blur.

This technique has been used by others in the past including the Toy Story zoetrope at Disney’s California Adventure. The first time I saw the technique was Gregory Barsamian’s piece “Die Falle” (The Trap), at the Museum of Glass, in Tacoma, Washington. Seeing a three dimensional animation in person for the first time can be a bit unreal which is part of the reason I wanted to share it with the crowd at Makerfaire.

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

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