Everything about this is wonderful.  Simplicity, great music and wonderful effect….

Any ideas how to create these images?


  1. 1) Running man illusion cracked me up.

    2) I’ve seen this done in front of a camera, and the illusion did not work live, nor did it work in the viewscreen, only upon playback. Persistence of vision.

    3) Someone had too much time on their hands.

  2. Seems fairly straightforward, you start with a black and white animation, then print every nth (probably about 8) line of each frame, all superimposed and offset onto the same sheet. It would probably take only a few dozen lines of code in a specialized Photoshop filter for that part (creating the original animations would be another matter). Then you have a mostly blacked-out transparency that only shows one line’s worth at a time.

    Moving it smoothly enough to not mix frames would be touchy, but if you freeze it you can see it wasn’t always perfect and yet the illusion still carried through.


  3. It’s pretty simple to make these. First, your overlay just needs to have opaque bars with gaps between them which are sized such that for N frames of animation, you have 1 unit of clear and N-1 units of opaque. Then you have your frames of animation, and you cut them up into 1-unit strips and then put the first strip from the first frame, the second strip from the second frame, the third strip from the third frame, and so on, wrapping around. Then as you move the overlay, you get the illusion of motion.

    It’s sort of the mechanical opposite of a zoetrope.

  4. There are some cute children’s books using this technique – Kick! is one. The grating slides as you turn the page. Quite a startling effect when you first see it, though maybe more so for adults than kids who take it all for granted.

    Also, could you please turn off the wretched iPad theme for this site? It makes it borderline unusable, especially from Twitter.

  5. zoetrope..
    (thanks for the opportunity to use one of my favourite words)

  6. Man, I’d love to get the print files for that. I teach a bunch of very enthusiastic 3 to 5 year olds, and I know it would just blow their tiny minds to see that in action!!

  7. I have a little book called Magic Moving Images by Colin Ord, pub Tarquin, which has these in and the introduction describes how to make them from 6 frames of an animation.

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