Thursday, December 31, 2009

Two homemade steam powered praxinoscopes

Check out this set of steam-powered praxinoscopes. Both of the small steam engines and the praxinoscopes were made from scratch by Adriane and Marc Horovitz over the course of a year.

Here's a toy praxinoscopeand small Jensen steam enginewith which you might be able to recreate this build.




for some of your own experiments.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Authentic, working replica of a praxinoscope

Authentic, working replica of a praxinoscope
Here is an heirloom-quality working replica of the praxinoscope -- an animation device invented in 1877.

About this praxinoscope replica:
Used to depict motion using a series of rapidly spinning images, it is considered the precursor to the modern motion picture, it was invented by French science teacher Charles-Émile Reynaud. A dodecagonal drum -- each face containing a 2 3/4" H x 1" W mirror -- sits concentrically inside a smooth, 8" diameter cylinder. A paper strip of 12 images is placed into the cylinder; when the brass finial is spun, the images are reflected in the central prism of mirrors, creating the illusion of movement. This replica comes with 14 image strips, including a galloping horse, two blacksmiths taking turns hammering a piece of iron on an anvil, and a rotund captain of industry rolling by virtue of his own girth. Beech construction.

Here is the link to The Authentic Praxinoscope.


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

'The Machine' - mechancial animation short film

Check out the Machine, a stop motion animated film short from director Rob Shaw. The director informs me that the work was highly inspired by mechanical theatre. It shows!

See more films by Rob Shaw on his blog.


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mechanisms 101 - online resources for devices

Mechanisms 101 -  online resources for devices
Here is a great site with resources on various types of mechanisms. There are many great animations, some of which are interactive so you can plug your own numbers into the system and see the results.

Mechanisms 101 has animations and information about: linkages, indexing mechanisms, gears, pumps, couplings, pneumatic systems, electronics, and many miscellaneous mechanical things. You will need the Flash player plug-in for your browser to see most of these great resources.

Here the link to Mechanisms 101.

[ Thanks Steve! ]


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Giant automaton featured on 'The Simpsons'

Giant automaton appear on 'The Simpsons'
Though I missed the show myself, I received a tip that a recent episode of The Simpsons featured Lisa operating a giant automaton to unravel a mystery.

Sure enough, during the episode titled 'Gone, Maggie Gone', Lisa plays an organ that starts in motion a huge automaton that provides clues to the whereabouts of her missing baby sister Maggie.

I don't know how long this link will remain operational, but the automaton can be found at timestamp 9:50 in this video of 'Gone, Maggie Gone' Simpson's episode.

[ Thanks JSB! ]


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Casa de Máquinas - Animated machine film

Here is a enchanting animated film depicting a house of machines. It's wonder full to see the mechanisms come to life, move themselves, and ultimately control a figure. I don't want to give away too much...so, just watch!

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Even More Animated Greeting Card Images

Hallmark has created a whole line of animated greeting cards that feature a little plastic crank mounted to the corner. When you turn the crank, the scene starts to move. Here a bunch of their new designs in this line. I posted about some of the other designs here and here.

Animated Yoga Greeting card
Figures doing Yogo


Sound and motion card of pirates
This one has sound and motion.



Schroeder and Snooopy card


Dog in front of fan card
Dog in front of fan card


Office themed birthday card
An office themed birthday card


Baseball pitcher animated card
Baseball pitcher winding up to throw


[ Thanks, again to Alan and Family! ]


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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three More Hand-Cranked Animated Cards

Hallmark (or the Shoebox division, rather) must be testing their excellent new line of hand-cranked animated greeting cards in different markets. The three shown below were not offered among the several that I bought in the Boston area. The cards also seem to vary quite a bit in terms of style and tone -- some retro, some contemporary, some cartoon, some photographs, some tame, and some raunchy.

Hallmark animated card, woman with twirling pasties
I believe the pasties twirl on this one.


Hallmark animated card, dancing cartoon woman
No, I don't know what this one says on the inside!


Hallmark animated card, woman with martini shaker
Back to retro with this one Martini maker

Some of the greeting cards have sound and motion, and some just have motion. These are of the motion-only variety.

[ Thanks Alan and Family! ]

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Video of Internal Mechanism of Animated Card


I posted recently about a the internal mechanism of a Hallmark animated greeting card. Here is a (very) short video of the card internal mechanism in action.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissected

Not long ago, I posted about Hallmark's new line of animated greeting cards. I bought a few, but didn't have the heart to dissect them. Fortunately for us, master papercraft artist and Retroscope creator Joe Freedman wasn't squeamish. Here are some of his photographs showing the internal mechanism of one of the cards. All images courtesy of Joe Freedman of The Sarabande Press.
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 1
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 2
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 3
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 4
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 5
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 6
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 7
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 8
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 9
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 10
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 11
Hallmark Hand-Cranked Animated Card Dissection 12
Thanks again to Joe Freedman -- creator of innovative dimensional graphics -- for these images.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Animated Movie Praxinoscope Replica Kit

Animated Movie Praxinoscope Replica Kit
Somebody forgot to tell me, but I guess it's Mechanical Animation Week here at The Automata / Automaton Blog. Following yesterday's post about the Retroscope and Thaumatrope machines, we've stumbled upon another form of motion picture device. Shown here is an animated movie Praxinoscope replica kit. The Praxinoscopic looks a bit like a refinement of the Zoetrope.

This little working replica is about 6 inches tall with a 5 inch diameter platform to hold the circular movie sheets. It comes with a few ready-made movies and a few blank sheets to try your hand at animation/early-movie-making. A 10-sided mirrored reflector is viewed through a frame to see the animated images right-side up.

I found this on Amazon.com, but nobody there seems to have reviewed it yet. It certainly looks like fun! If you drop the $12.50 for this gizmo, let us know how you like it.

Here's the product page for the Animation Praxinscope.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Retroscope: Hand-cranked Paper Movies

Retroscope - Hand-cranked Paper Movies
Retroscopes are hand-cranked looped flip books. When you turn the crank, the pages are flipped rapidly and you see the series of still images spring to life. The reels are removable so you can get extra movies. The company that makes them says they are producing new movies all the time. They even make custom movies for companies and individuals.

The same folks also have a hand-cranked 'Thaumatrope Mechanique' which uses a similar principle, but only two alternating images. Though it uses only two images, the effect is impressive, nonetheless.

Visit The Sarabande Press web site to see several videos of Rotoscope paper movies in action and the related Thaumatrope Mechanique animation device.

[ Thanks bhaaluu! ]

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CD

Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CDA dedicated reader of The Automata / Automaton Blog, has passed along info about this multimedia educational CD-ROM about mechanical toys.

Basic Principles of Mechanisms
Structured to encourage students to conduct their own investigations into the basic principles of mechanisms, this learning aid covers:
Mechanical Toys
* Types of motion
* Cams and followers
* Levers and linkages
* Pulley systems
* Gear systems
* Technical vocabulary

Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CD screen shotEducational Models
Combining these topic areas with detailed analyzes of 21 real-life automata, Focus on Mechanical Toys delivers a comprehensive educational package that's equally useful as a teaching aid, learning resource or research tool.

Interactive Animations
High quality 3D animations are available in addition to the photographic images, written descriptions and videos of each toy's mechanical structure. Each animation can be paused at any time and the on-screen image copied and pasted into a word processing or DTP program for inclusion in students' design folders.

They offer a free download demo on their site -- with some functionality disabled. Much can be learned from the free demo (Windows only).

Here is the product page for the Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CD.


Note: You might also consider Flying-Pig.co.uk's Mechanisms Offline download.

[Thanks bhaaluu!]

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Flash Animations of Mechanisms for Offline Use

This new product is a download that gives you the ability to use the mechanisms part of the Flying-Pig.co.UK site on a computer not connected to the internet.

The download contains a .ZIP file of over forty web pages with over forty animations. The pages provide information on many types of mechanism and movement.

A great educational and reference resource!

You can can download the latest version with new mechanisms at any time for twelve months with no charge!

Order the Mechanisms Offline from Flying-Pig

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brock Engineering's mechanism home page

Brock Engineering, a mechanical engineering company in Roxbury Connecticut has made a number of Java based animations of basic machines and engines. Animations include:

  • Straight Line Generators

  • Rotary/linear Motions

  • Four BarLinkages

  • Escapements

  • Miscellaneous Mechanisms


Brock Engineering's mechanism page.

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Animated Engines

Matt Keveney's personal web page has some animated illustrations that show the inner workings of a variety of steam, Stirling and internal combustion engines. The engines use some of the mechanisms you'll find in Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements (one of my favorite little books).

He's also been kind enough to tell you how the animations were made and include an interesting bibliography.

Learn about some basic mechanism by viewing these animated engines

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre Footage on YouTube

Some kind soul has put together a little video of a Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibit that was at the Oxo Tower Gallery a couple of years ago. You can see automata in action from most of the CMT artists. There are pieces by two of my personal favorites: Keith Newstead and Paul Spooner.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre clip

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