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Zoetrope Loop

There are moments in ones life that are forever ingrained in ones memory. Those memories can last a lifetime, but they can fade with time, if not caught on film. One such memory I have involves monarch butterflies. I grew up on a farm with three older brothers, an older sister and a younger sister. We would often play baseball in a sheep pasture. One beautiful fall day monarch butterflies started to land on a tree, as we played. Before long, the entire tree was covered with butterflies. We were all so mesmerized, that none of us ran to get a camera, to take a picture of the spectacular sight. I think we were all afraid we would miss out on even a second of such a vision! It is an image that I will forever remember. I just wish I could witness it again. Hence the reason for the monarch butterflies for this assignment. Finally, a chance to try to recapture that image!

Reading through the textbook, I did not see much on how a zoetrope actually works. I wanted to learn how such images are captured by our eyes and brains. By doing a little further research, I learned a few things about this process. The human eye can see 7,000,000 colors. (Color Matters, 2007) Different colors can have different affects on a person and even animals:

'A company that markets red contact lenses for chickens (at 20 cents a pair), points to medical studies showing that chickens wearing red-tinted contact lenses behave differently from birds that didnŐt. They eat less, produce more and do not fight as much. This decreases aggressive tendencies and birds are less likely to peck at each other causing injury. A spokesman said the lenses will improve world egg-laying productivity by $600 million a year., (Color Matters, 2007, p.3)

One might ask what this has to do with the zoetrope. As I tested different ideas for this project, I noticed how color played a part in how the eye processed what was seen. The more colors used, and the more there were color similarities in each frame, the less likely the eyes processed this as an animation. Color plays a major part in eye and brain functions, even in the watching of the zoetrope proceedings.
'The phi phenomenon is a result of human instinct. Our brains strive to make meaning from what we perceive. When we see different images close together, our brains quickly create a relationship between them. When a zoetrope spins fast, the motion appears smooth. When the zoetrope slows down so that each image is seen for a tenth of a second or more, the illusion of movement begins to break down and the strobe effect becomes more obvious. If you show 16 mm films in your classroom, the rate of the projector is 24 frames, or pictures, per second. VCRs play and record tape at a rate of 30 frames per second. But old silent movie projectors of the early 1900s run at 15 to 18 frames per second, causing a flashing effect.' (Cowens, 1999)

Color and timing can change the way our eyes and brains process images. An assignment, such as the zoetrope, is only a minute study in this process. All one has to do, is start researching the topic, and it is easy to see how truly intricate an art form all of this is! I have attached a few such articles I located, when doing outside reading on the topic. It is all quite amazing, but not as amazing as seeing migrating monarchs stopping for a break on a tree.

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