The Way We Move

A big hit today on the web is the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). Introduced by CompuServe in 1987, GIFs allows movement to perhaps otherwise boring images. I see you think, how are GIFs photography related? Well in a way GIFs finds its origin way back in the 1800s. The early days of photography.

Étienne-Jules Marey was a pioneer in the field of photography. As a scientist and physiologist he became fascinated in the movement of the body and that of air. He started to research flying animals. He had the brilliant idea of capturing a flying animal on one photographic surface. He adopted and further developed animated photography into a separate field of chronophotography in the 1880s.

Around the same time a popular debate in the USA was about the movement of horses. People wanted to know whether all four hooves of a horse were off the ground at the same time while trotting or galloping. Eadweard Muybridge, allegedly inspired and influenced by the works of Étienne-Jules Marey, was asked to settle the debate by using his photographic skills.

To study the gallop, Muybridge planned to take a series of photos on June 19, 1878 at Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm. He placed numerous large glass-plate cameras in a line along the edge of the track; the shutter of each was triggered by a thread as the horse passed. (In later studies he used a clockwork device to set off the shutters and capture the images.) He copied the images in the form of silhouettes onto a disc to be viewed in a machine he had invented, which he called a zoopraxiscope. This device was later regarded as an early movie projector, and the process as an intermediate stage toward motion pictures or cinematography.
(source: Wikipedi

So there you have it. The invention of photography kickstarted the understanding of movement, the movie industry, animations and GIFs.

I came across this video by coincidence today (4/13). I thought I would share it with you. Since it fits so perfectly in this post about Muybridge. It is a movie from 1965.


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