This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
ZOEFLIX – A Modern ZOETROPE Animation Device for Your Home
ZOEFLIX – A Modern ZOETROPE Animation Device for Your Home
After nearly 200 years, the Zoetrope is back! Artisan American made toy bringing pre-cinema magic into your home, office and school.
After nearly 200 years, the Zoetrope is back! Artisan American made toy bringing pre-cinema magic into your home, office and school. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
About this project
Zoetrope (Greek for “Wheel of Life”) was the name given to an animation device that was invented in the 1830s and remained popular throughout the 19th century. The device consists of a slotted cylinder, or drum, containing animation strips and discs that spin on a wooden stand. By viewing the spinning animation through slits in the drum, the blur of color is broken into a rapid succession of sequential images producing the illusion of motion.
The ZOEFLIX is a modern Zoetrope that captures the magic, beauty, and charm of this classic toy, while improving the device with a bright, wide-angle LED light that lets the animation shine, with new life, day or night. The newly designed stand and lid are now gorgeously finished solid hardwood, while the drum is handcrafted in the USA from eco-friendly faux leather and bound together with real brass tacks. All real, solid materials—no cheap ABS plastics or cardboard. And it spins on a steel ball bearing that spins up to 10 times longer than other zoetropes.
The animation strips and discs, like the ZOEFLIX itself, are a perfect blend of history and innovation. Each historically inspired animation has been thoughtfully remastered and re-imagined by Ken Higginson for more vivid story-telling that showcases a full range of artistic possibilities. Plus, an endless supply of printable animation templates will be available for free download from our website, so you will be able to easily draw your own endless variety of animations.
The campaign page and video show 6 one-sided animation strips and 3 one-sided animation discs, but these are only half of the animations that will be included with the final ZOEFLIX. The final strips and discs will be double-sided, which means we still need another 6 strip and 3 disc animations. The remaining animations will be rolled out during and soon after the funding period, and backers will get to voice their opinion and offer suggestions as we select these animations together. An inclusive process that will give everyone a feeling of ownership!
Each ZOEFLIX includes...
- The fully functional zoetrope device with hardwood stand and handcrafted drum
- A beautiful top with a knob for spinning A bright LED light that attaches to the lid to light up the animation—this feature adds a lot to the device!
- Remastered and re-imagined historically based animations: 12 animation strip designs and 6 animation disc designs (6 double-sided strips and 3 double-sided discs)
- Endless printable strips and discs for you to make your own animation
- A booklet of animation instruction and historical background about the toy
- All packaged in this classy gift box!
Measures 9 3/4 inches (24.77 cm) high X 5 1/4 inches (13.5 cm) in diameter
Click 'Back This Project' button above to select your reward, and place your pre-order.
Or see reward options on the upper right of this page.
Contact me if you would like a reward in another quantity or combination. If you have any questions or difficulty pledging, please send a message with the link above or call Les at 916-412-1766.
I am very proud of what people have been saying about my original ZOEFLIX—and this new ZOEFLIX is going to be even better! Below are some reviews from my Etsy store. And here is an article on BoingBoing
Below is a interview I did with the original ZOEFLIX on GoodDay...
HISTORY OF THE ZOETROPE
Here is a video about the development of optical toys including 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, and reached its height of popularity in the 1860’s. While it has 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” because it is a spinning wheel that brings images to life.
Zoetropes in Pop Culture
Recently, zoetropes and similar optical toys have been popping up in movies like The Conjuring 2, The Woman in Black, Oz The Great and Powerful, Saving Mr. Banks, and more. And I supplied my original ZOEFLIX to use in movies and television shows, including The Long Ranger, Gotham and Sleepy Hollow. The ZOEFLIX has also been used as centerpieces, or gifts, at exclusive events put on by Reel FX Animation Studios, American Zoetrope / Francis Ford Coppola, Warner Bros. Pictures and more.
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 ZOEFLIX 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.
I have built hundreds of zoetropes for schools, universities and museums all over the world, and I encourage teachers to use the ZOEFLIX in their classrooms and workshops to give hands-on demonstrations. And as part of that, each student can build their own zoetrope, to take home, with the printable paper Zoetrope that will be available for free download to all backers.
The Evolution of the ZOEFLIX
After purchasing a zoetrope in 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 the 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 - and was more similar to the quality of the original zoetropes.
This model, with the improved spin, is what I sold to Disney to use as a prop in The Lone Ranger.
Later (about October 2012), I bought an old 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, I made the zoetrope pictured on the upper right.
Then in May 2013, 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 light into the lid of a zoetrope. On the lower left is a back-of-the-envelope sketch I drew of the light idea.
After testing a bunch of different lights (as you can see below), 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 to the top of the lid, which turned out perfect for spinning the zoetrope. On the upper right, you can see this original ZOEFLIX.
Now, with this Kickstarter projector, I am launching a new and improved ZOEFLIX with improvements to the design of the device and remastered and re-imagined animation strips and discs.
The problem I found with the old ZOEFLIX design was that it had two lids. Before I added the light-up lid, the stand doubled as the lid, which meant there was no way to pack everything nicely together into the drum for shipping and storage. So now I'm having a new stand built that fits nicely with the light and animations in the drum.
I tested a few different sizes and shapes to find something that would fit inside the drum, be stable enough, and beautiful—below are some of the prototypes I built.
With the original ZOEFLIX, I had to cut the circle parts of the stand and lid out of birch laminated plywood, but now, with the custom re-design of the new ZOEFLIX, the stand and lid will be crafted out of solid hardwood—a tangible jump in quality about which I am very excited!
The ZOEFLIX's animation strips and discs are being redesigned by Ken Higginson to add new color and life to the historical designs. Ken is utilizing modern printing technology to add depth to the animations with background elements and creative tweaks that place the characters in a setting and tell a more complete story. Ken is also designing the animations to showcase a full range of motion that a zoetrope can animate, including: horizontal, vertical and diagonal movements; different types of spinning; disappearing, growing, leaping, weaving, flickering flames, and more.
These will be beautiful and well thought-out animations worthy of the fine device in which they will be used. I was used to the look of the antique zoetrope animations: simple, often black and white cartoons on white backgrounds. And then I've also seem some very poorly done modern Zoetrope animations that were way too busy and lost in a blurry mess. Initially, I was a little concerned that the background elements Ken was adding might pull away from and lower the contrast of the foreground elements. But instead (as you can see), the backgrounds add both visually and conceptually, because they give each animation a context in which to move, creating even more distinction than if they were pasted over a white background. This goes to show that the classic white zoetrope background is an artifact of old printing technology, and not due to optimized animation quality. And the modern busy zoetrope strips don't work because someone who understands how a zoetrope works, and how its animation needs to differ from other modern animation techniques, is not designing them. Ken knows what he is doing, and these animations exceeded my most optimistic expectations!
Other Products I've Created (click images to find out more):
Even though it didn't go quite as I hoped, I've even been on Shark Tank!
I've already built hundreds of ZOEFLIX zoetropes over the past few years, so some of the production processes will just be repeating what I've been doing. The faux leather drums are made from flat, die cut pieces I order from a US based manufacture. The faux leather has a new car scent that dissipates over time. Then, I have a jig that I use to roll the flat faux leather into the drum, which is then hand-tacked to a round wooden bottom. This process is all set up, and ready to execute, as soon as the project funds to order the faux leather pieces.
For the stand and lid, we have selected a manufacturer based in the USA who has provided samples of the ZOEFLIX wooden pieces custom built to my VERY specific specifications: the video and campaign page pictures the working prototype built from these samples. The wood pieces will be made out of maple on a CNC lathe with nice crisp sanded edges. Once the project is funded, I will place the order for the wooden stand and lid pieces, which should take about 6 to 8 weeks to deliver. Once they are delivered to my shop, I will have them assembled together with the drums to complete the whole device.
The ZOEFLIX light is a very carefully sourced, battery powered LED light. I searched a long time and tested a lot of lights before I chose this one. There are a lot of much cheaper lights that may look similar, but the ZOEFLIX light is the only flood light I could find that was this compact. Other lights I tested only lit up the center of the drum, but the ZOEFLIX light's wide-angle floods the whole drum, illuminating the full animation. These lights are sourced and ready to order as soon as the project funds.
The animation strips and discs are going to be printed by our US based print shop. I already have printing and cutting estimates, so as soon as the projects funds, I can place the order, which should take about 2 weeks to print and cut. Ken Higginson has experience with publishing and printing productions, so he will be working with the print shop to make sure they have all the correct file types and support they need to be able to print and cut the strips and discs.
Funds will be use to built and ship these Zoetropes. Some parts, like the faux leather and wooden pieces for the drum and stand, have to be ordered in quantities of 1000 or more. The other parts and components can, more or less, be ordered as needed. Our $15,000 goal is calculated to cover the large minimum orders plus enough of the other parts to build and ship all rewards.
All parts, components, hardware, packaging, etc. are being delivered to my shop, where I will personally work on and oversee their assembly and packaging to make sure everything is done right. I will be using BackerKit to help run shipping and logistics to make sure everything runs smoothly. It should take no more then 8 weeks after Kickstarter funds are received to order and receive all the parts. Then, it should take another 2 to 4 weeks to assemble and ship rewards, which gives us an estimated 8 to 12 weeks before we can ship your ZOEFLIX. It can take up to 3 weeks for Kickstarter and Stripe to transfer the project funds into my account so I can start ordering parts, which puts estimated ZOEFLIX delivery sometime round this June. Unexpected delays could push that out a little further, and I will try to deliver sooner if possible—I'm just trying to provide a realistic estimate.
Risks and challenges
We are experienced in consumer product development and fulfillment, and have shipped thousands of orders all over the world, including successfully fulfilling five Kickstarter projects with thousands of happy Kickstarter and BackerKit backers.
Because of our level of experience, the risks are very low. The biggest risk (which we do not expect) is delay. It is always possible that things will take longer than expected, which means delivery time could be longer than estimated. But we do fully expect to be able to ship all the rewards by this June. And we will be open and honest if any unforeseen challenges or delays arise during the production process.
You can back this project with confidence, because we have done this before, and we know what we are doing. Just take a look at the other projects we have built with the help of the Kickstarter community: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/amat/createdLearn about accountability on Kickstarter