Today I have two things to say.  First, the Telepath mind reading app is now available for Android.  Get it here and convince people that you are telepathic!

Second, this is sooooooooo gorgeous….

10 points to anyone who can give a clear explanation of why the effect works!

43 comments

    1. I’m wondering how many “frames” you can get from this. Logically, it seems that it should only be two, as the overlaid pattern has a simple alternating affect, yet the moving images definitely look like more than two different images to create the effect of motion.

      Or is this just part of the illusion? If so, it’s very convincing.

    2. I think this is part of the illusion/the moiré effect, that you actually get movement with only two frames. But how you exactly control the movement…no idea. Probably done by God…

    3. I think you have two frames if the black bars and the gaps are equal.
      But here the amplitude of the bars are a multiple. So you can reach more frames.

    4. I’d think that you can have more frames the bigger the bars are relative to the gaps between them.

    5. You actually see two frames at the same time. You see
      1 and 2
      2 and 3
      3 and 4
      4 and 1

      By moving really quickly you don’t see that you see two frames at the same time.

  1. The reason is alternative striped (transparent and opaque black) camouflager screen and the relative motion over a fixed image. We only see the white portion of the image below through the moving transparent portion of camouflager screen. The combination of two give rise to a resultant image and the moving screen brings a motion to the image as consecutive relative images are produced in quick succession like in a movie.

  2. Nice find, and I think it has to do with how far apart the slats are and the spacing of the lines on the images. It’s only showing you a part of the image at a time, and moving the top sheet one way or the other makes it appear as though the image is moving. It’s essentially the same as the old ‘holographic’ papers with moving images on them. They had multiple frames from a movie/show/whatever layered so that when viewed from one angle the image was static, but if you shifted the image forward/backward the picture appeared to move. This is essentially the same, only it’s laid out flat instead of layered.

    I hope that made sense. Pac-Man was my favorite.

  3. I think I can understand how pacman’s dots worked. It’s like the moire patterns you see in the wire mesh when you’re driving under a motorway bridge on a slight curve… It looks like a large copy of the mesh pattern moving sideways rapidly cos one of the identical grating’s is further away and being further away it’s bar spacing appear slightly smaller. I’ve never tried it but always reckoned you’d get the same illusion of rapid, continuous motion if you prepared gratings of slightly different bar spacings and slid one over the other. I wouldn’t have thought of trying anything as clever as the spinning head or running man though. That must have taken a lot of working out.

  4. i think it works the same way as when you draw a cartoon out on a notebook with slight variations on each page and as you turn the pages it looks as though the cartoon is moving

  5. It works like a normal animation, except the frames are all represented on one sheet. The number of frames depend on the widths of the parallel lines. Divide the width of the wide and dark line by the width of the thin and transparent line. Then each frame is represented by parallel strips of the background image with the same width as the transparent lines. As the stripes pass over the image, each frame is visible in succession.

    I saw a book with this effect last week at a store. It was a collection of Star Wars animations. For example, there was a light saber duel between Luke and Vader. The foreground stripe were pulled as the pages were opened. I can see this becoming popular as animated versions of popup books.

    A real challenge would be to pull off both. As the book opens, A popup model is animated as the model unfolds with animations on the various surfaces.

    1. There are actually several of these books on the market, do a search on “scanimation” to find them.

      We have one of them (the one tiltled “Gallop”), and my young daughters disassembled one of the pages enough that I can see clearly how it works. The clear strips in the mask are only about a tenth of the width of the black strips, so as the mask moves along you can get effectively about ten frames of animation.

  6. My guess: Is a clever stroboscopic effect. The cellophane has transparent vertical strips with a width perhaps 1/3 of the opaque strips, which only shows (perhaps) 1/4 of the background drawing at the time. Moving the cellophane the same length of the transparent widths will show a disjoint or different part of the background… so if we put a slightly changed drawing there, it will appear animated when we move it. The effect is further enhanced in the sense that, between 2 images, the transparency will blur the two like an after image, promoting some kind of morph effect. I’m not entirely sure that morph will came as perfect as we (almost) see, but, I note three factors that might add to it:

    1) The granularity of the video itself… the thing au naturel might be not so convincing.
    2) The video appears to have been made using stop motion in certain parts… the cut parts might be ones where the cellophane was adjusted to get the best results.
    3) I’m intrigued by the kind of moire effect we see when the cellophane is over white areas…as if there was some interference running there too, or the transparency strips were graded along their height. If the transparency is not uniform, this might add to more complex stroboscopic effects. Only a close analysis would help me on this.

    Now, for my 10 points explanation, I’ll simulate the optical illusion in the lines bellow (use a fixed space font to better view it, or maybe a text editor):

    BACK:_I_etsf’tfsre_ocabt_o!ks_ic_no_dp__i_oc_f__
    USE_** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
    GET__I__t__’__s_____a_____k__i__n__d_____o__f_
    USE__** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
    GET______s__t__r__o__b__o__s__c__o__p__i__c___
    USE___** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
    GET____e__f__f__e__c__t__!____________________

    (I was not really sure if the html wasn’t going to eat the multiple spaces so I substituted them)

  7. Gestalt principles. So if u were to pause it at any point the black strips fill up and overlap White areas that need to be hidden for that particular image. So it basically took the creators ages to pick and draw and overlap each image distances by one width of the top sheets black strips? FYI big fan of wiseman just bought the book but wish it was more like d’être. Brownstricks of the mind. I’m half way through and the structure is becoming slightly boring. No offence, content is better than any of Malcolm gladwells books but derren gave a few really applicable and practical tips like memory techniques and basic impressive social tricks

  8. It works the same way any “standard” animation, or even film/video, works. Look at the preview frame of the video. Note the nice, basically clean image of the runner, with some “noise” of the vertical stripes. As you move the overlay across the image, you get a series of these “nice, clean” moments, interlaced with “noisy” images. The human brain, being an excellent finder of patterns (see also “pareidolia”), sees the “clean” images as a series of images making up motion, and discards the “noise”.

    The result? A basically smooth animation, with some low-level background noise.

  9. The stripes form a mask/filter through which you see one section/picture-frame at a time.You can draw the total “encoded-message” through the mask, one pic at a time, then pull,and even use part of one pic in the next if you like. Teller sent me a dancing skeleton Halloween card using this effect.

  10. I’m basically sticking with my badly worded explanation above but I wondered if the reason see the illusion and don’t see what it really is (black bars moving in front of stationary patterns of dots) could be some sort of non linear contrast perception effect in humans… So your brain is basically seeing white as the stationary dots start to emerge from behind the moving bars then at some point, maybe when the stationary dot is say 50% visible your brain suddenly sees black at that part of the picture. And the same in reverse as the dot begins to be covered by the next moving bar and goes ‘white’ again.

  11. It’s just a flat zoetrope picture, done with a flat lens instead of a barrel strip lens. The movement is the illusion, each millimeter of strip movement creating a still picture that our mind’s eye strings together into a moving picture. Invented in the 1830s, I believe. See for some cool history.

  12. These images remind me of the work of Rufus Butler Seder. (maybe they are his creations?..) He calls the technique he uses “scanimation”.
    Here is a link to his website, Eye Think, Inc, where one can also see examples of cleverly designed murals and other objects that he creates:
    http://www.eyethinkinc.com/

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  14. Well clearly it is magic of brain and information received through eyes in the form of light.
    1. First we draw a “figure” of a running man in black color. Erase some information from the source, i.e piece of plastic sheet here.
    2. We take another transparent sheet, fill this with again limited and directed information in the form of black equally placed stripes.
    3. Place these two in front of a light source to illuminate the background.

    As we move the sheet containing stripes back and forth, our brains processing unit starts functioning by “filling” in the “erased” data to the first sheet, and takes away chunks of black columns only to be further treated as a part of first sheet.
    It sounds complicated but its really simple logic, fill in the blanks, and to do so, take the information available in front of the eyes.

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