Education Blog


By Brady Shoemaker, Director of Curriculum

Many of our most popular classes at the Media Arts Lab are the animation classes. We use computers and cameras to bring drawings, clay and paper to life. But one of the simplest ways to animate is with a zoetrope.

Zoetropes are cylinders with slits on the sides that can spin. When a sequential series of images are drawn on a strip of paper and put in the zoetrope and spun, you can look though the slits and it appears as if the images are moving.

You can buy zoetropes for about 10 to 12 dollars, but at the Lab we wanted to make them ourselves utilizing our 3D printer. With a little planning, some trial and error and about 4 and a half hours we had a working Zoetrope.

<Autodesk time lapse.mp4>

We used a free program called Autodesk 123D Design to create a model Zoetrope. The free software allows you to manipulate shapes to create 3D objects. Once a model is created it can be exported to a file that our Makerbot Replicator 2x can read. Four and a half hours later the print is complete!

<time lapse>

With a little black paint and a wooden dowel and finishing nail as a handle the zoetrope is ready for a spin.

<Zoe spin WIDE.MOV>

<Zoe spin CU.MOV>

If you have a 3D printer and would like your own follow the link for the file.