Anima Istanbul: IF 2009 “Zoetrope”


For Instanbul’s IF 2009 independent film festival, Ayse Unal of Anima Istanbul teamed up with compositor Ilhan Poyraz to reinterpret the experience of watching a zoetrope in this deceptively simple promo.

I was intrigued by the process, and Ayse was kind enough to share a little making-of action with us:

Did you actually create a physical zoetrope? Or did you mimic the look of a zoetrope using software?

We did not create a physical zoetrope, but we photographed people on a turntable in eight angles. We then made the film mimicking a real life zoetrope using Fusion 5.3.

We wanted to make a 3D previz before hand, however we didn’t have enough time, so we just shot some photographs in our own studio and came to the conclusion eight angles for the same movement in time is enough for the final film we have in mind.

Then we went to a bigger studio and shot series of photographs with Canon Eos cameras. So we had series of photographs, in all 8 positions the actors repeated the actions. We matched the movements’ position in space and time in 8 timelines. And ping-pongs were readied.

Keying and masking were finished. So we were ready to prepare the setups in Fusion. First we prepared eight image sequences of the figure turning around himself/herself. You can see 2 examples of those sequences here.

Then we mapped these sequences to planes. We achieved something like this. When the cylinder rotates, the planes on the cylinder always are in frontal view.

To be able to make a “working zoetrope”, we wrote a simple Fusion expression. What this expression does is according to the angle of the rotation of the cylinder, it finds the matching angle from the footage. As the footage is a figure shot by turning on a turntable, the angles match.

So if the zoetrope is at its correct speed to see the animation, the figures of the first frame have 0° rotation, the second frame is black (strobe), the figures of the third frame have 45° rotation. Of course like a real life 3D zoetrope, all figures placed on the cylinder are photographed at the sequential frames of the animation.

After all this work, we finally had a zoetrope, so truthful to the real one, if you don’t use the strobe effect, doesn’t work. :-)

Here’s another shot from Fusion showing the interactive of the sequences.