Wheel of Life: the Beginning of Modern Movies! It's an Artistic Platform, an Intriguing Toy, and a Beautiful Conversation Piece!
Video Demo of Spinning Knob and Light-up Top:
Video Demo of Animation Discs:
About the Zoetrope
The zoetrope was one of the earliest movie toys and was extremely popular in the latter half of the 19th century. It consisted of a slotted cylinder through which one views paper animated movie strips. As the cylinder spins the user looks through the slits at the pictures on the opposite side of the cylinder's interior. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together so that the user sees a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, the equivalent of a motion picture.
The ZOEFLIX is a fine replica of an 18th century Zoetrope with some cool extra features.
HISTORY OF THE ZOETROPE
Inventors have been making optical toys for a very long time. Take for example the Chinese inventor Ting Huan (丁緩) who, way back in 180 AD, made a device called chao hua chich kuan (the pipe which makes fantasies appear). Huan’s device worked by convection. Rising air from an oil lamp caused this early zoetrope to turn, causing pictures painted on panels of translucent paper to animate.
The modern zoetrope was invented in 1833 by British mathematician William George Horner reaching its height of popularity in the 1860’s. While its been known by other names like “daedalum” or “the wheel of the devil”, the term “zoetrope” coined by American inventor William F. Lincoln seems to have stuck. Zoetrope means “the wheel of life”.
Zoetropes in Pop Culture
Recently, zoetropes and similar optical toys have been popping up in movies like The Woman in Black, Oz The Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer. And I supplied Disney with my zoetrope replicas to use in The Long Ranger and Saving Mr. Banks.
Many have also seen 3D zoetropes, which work on the same principal, at fairs, festivals and theme parks like the Pixar zoetrope at Disney California Adventure and large zoetropes at Burning Man. When you see the ZOEFLIX in person, you'll know why this device continues to capture the human imagination nearly 200 years later.
The zoetrope is a piece of history and was the beginning for modern cinema. The great thing about the ZOEFLIX is that it is not only a beautiful replica with optional improvements, but it is fully functional and can be used for hands-on demonstrations that recreate the magic of the past. Perfect for any classroom that is teaching the history of film, animation, science and more—from kindergartners to grad students they'll all be captivated and edified.
One thing that I hope will happen is that teachers will be able to use the ZOEFLIX in the classroom to give students a hands-on history lesson. As part of that, each student could build their own zoetrope to take home with the printable PAPER ZOE MINI that every backer will receive.
The Evolution of the ZOEFLIX
After purchasing a zoetrope from Europe a couple of years ago and finding the quality to be below par, I decided to make my own zoetrope. On the lower left is a picture of my first attempt, I had a few prototypes building up to this one, but this is what my first full zoetrope looked like.
At first, I copied the hardware from my European zoetrope, which was just a screw going down the center of the cylinder into the base, but with that set-up it would spin for a few seconds before it wobbled to a stop. I soon devolved a method of setting the cylinder on a steal ball bearing, which allowed the zoetrope to spin up to 30 to 40 seconds on a single spin—a huge improvement!
This model with the improved spin is what I sold to Disney to use as props in The Lone Ranger and Saving Mr. Banks.
Later (about October of 2012) I bought an old 1960s zoetrope and I loved how it had a lid to enclose the base and all the cartoon strips. This gave me the great idea to make the zoetrope's base double as the lid! After tweaking the cylinder height and designing a new base to make this happen I made the zoetrope pictured on the upper right.
This last May I was sitting in a meeting daydreaming about my zoetrope, thinking of ways to make the image brighter and clearer. And all at once it hit me—I could put a battery powered LED light into the lid of a zoetrope. On the lower left is the sketch I drew on the back of my agenda as I was sitting in the meeting.
I first attempted to launch a totally new zoetrope on Kickstarter with all new dimensions—basically designing a new zoetrope from the ground up. That project was unsuccessful partly because the funding needed to build an all new zoetrope was higher than the support I got.
But now, with this project, I'm going back more to the design I'd been developing with all the improvements I've made. This way I can continue to use the same jigs and materials I have now and adding on to that rather then building a whole new zoetrope from scratch, which costs a lot less. The focus of this new Kickstarter is to help the production by purchasing a custom die to cut out the slotted cylinder and to producing the new light-up top.
After testing a few different lights I found one that was bright and had a wide enough angle to light-up the whole inside of the zoetrope. I designed a new lid to hold the light and in the course of doing that I added a small knob onto the top of the lid, which turned out perfect for spinning the zoetrope. On the upper right you can see the latest—the new ZOEFLIX!
Working with some local manufactures and suppliers, we will make ZoeFlix using quality materials.
• The top drum is hand built with eco-friendly thick stiff faux leather—beautiful and durable!
• The lid encloses the base and animation strips for easy shipping and storage.
• The base is a combination of solid hardwood and laminated hardwood products finished with a glossy dark stain.
• ZoeFlix hardware is steal gliding on ball bearings to allow for a smooth long spin.
The first thing I'll do when I get the funding is order a custom die to cut out the slotted cylinder top of the ZOEFLIX. I have the pricing and design all set-up and will be ordering the die from the manufacturer that makes the faux leather. So they will make the faux leather to order and cut the pieces with the die they make for me. This is what the $2000 pledge goal will go towards: the custom die and minimum order of faux leather pieces. Anything above that will allow me to place a bigger order of faux leather pieces and buy other material needed to fulfill all the rewards.
I have or will be able to order any other components I need to build all the rewards. I've been building the previous zoetrope design for a while and I have a system all set-up. The bottom part of the cylinder and the foot of the base I'll cut out with the circle jigs I made, and I have a jig I built that will turn the flat faux leather pieces I get from the manufacturer into the cylinders for the zoetropes. I have the sourcing all set-up for all the other parts.
I already have the historical animation strips you saw in the video ready to go—and I can always print more if needed. They are replicas of 19th and 20th century designs. And also I found a source for the LED light that goes in the light-up top and the light will connect with the top with a powerful magnet, which allows the light to be removed to make it easy to change the batteries.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
I am experienced in consumer product development, fulfillment, and have shipped thousands of orders all over the world. Costs have been accurately calculated, quality is a priority, and any problems or difficulties will be managed in a proactive and professional manner keeping in mind the promises I have made to our backers.
For example if the order quantity requires more space then I have currently available, I have a connection with a local warehouse that will be willing to pitch in if needed.
And I have the material and pricing set-up with a local cabinet shop to cut out the circle cylinder bottom and base foot with a CNC machine, if the number of rewards became too many to cut them all out by hand.
While I don’t anticipate any major problems I will maintain communication and transparency throughout the campaign, manufacturing, and fulfillment.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.