3D Zoetrope Development - Part 6 - Balsa Wood

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Having got to grips with the prototyping workflow I'd developed in After Effects, I started to think about how I could plan a nice, clean but relatively complicated zoetrope to build out of balsa wood.  I eventually arrived at this kind of sine wave arrangement...

So I printed out the frames of each of the 7 layers from the AE mock up, and chopped up and measured out all the pieces of balsa wood to match up to them once I had painted them all blue and green.

The next task was to figure out how to place all of the 227 pieces into the correct positions on the record base.  My solution was to make a template for the record to sit in, with the frame divisions marked out around it's circumference.  I then tied a piece of thread to a drawing pin, stuck it in the middle of the record, attached a piece of paper to the thread to indicate the correct radial measurement for each of the layers, and stuck a sticker to the record at the corresponding position when the thread was pulled tightly in line with the frame markers on the circumference.  The photos below might do a better job of explaining all that!

Thankfully I got it right first time, as you can se in this video, along with the innermost layer of balsa wood.  

With a bit more patience, a lot of glue gunning and some corrections to the measurements of the wood (I forgot they would need to get narrower the closer they got to the centre of the disc!) I managed to finish this one to a level of polish that I was pretty happy with.  It was really fun, and pretty satisfying after all that work, to be able to just play about with the lighting and speeds on the record player when I was filming it and to have it look as slick as I had hoped it would.  Here's the final thing in action...

Well, not quite the final thing - more to come on this in the next blog...



About the author

Retchy

Retchy is a freelance animator based in Dundee, Scotland. He has worked most recently on projects for the Scottish Dance Theatre, Norwich Puppet Theatre, Smallpetitklein, and Ted-Ed amongst many others. He continues to explore experimental techniques in his spare time and is currently focusing on a combined zoetrope and projection…

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