Building A Zoetrope Using Kinect, Processing, And A Laser Cutter

A zoetrope is a device that contains a disk full with a series of images that make up and animation. A couple of different methods can be used to trick the eye into seeing a single animated image. In the past this was done by placing the images inside of a cylinder with slits at regular distances. When spun quickly, the slits appear to be stationary, with the images creating the animation. But the same effect can be accomplished using a strobe light.

The disk you see above uses the strobe method, but it’s design and construction is what caught our eye. The animated shapes were captured with a Kinect and isolated using Processing. [Greg Borenstein] takes a depth movie recorded while someone danced in front of a Kinect. He ran it through a Processing sketch and was able to isolate a set of slides that where then turned into the objects seen above using a laser cutter.

You can watch a video of this particular zoetrope after the break. But we’ve also embedded the Pixal 3D zoetrope clip which, although unrelated to this hack, is extremely interesting. Don’t have a laser cutter to try this out yourself? You could always build a zoetrope that uses a printed disk.

Kinect recorded, laser-cut zoetrope:

[vimeo= w=470]

Pixal 3D sculpture zoetrope:


8 thoughts on “Building A Zoetrope Using Kinect, Processing, And A Laser Cutter

  1. Very cool and this is actually something I was thinking of building myself, to compliment my image projector projects. So i’ll definitely be checking out the documentation.

    For those interested in seeing more types of animation like this, you should visit the Ghibli studio museum in Tokyo. They have some amazing stuff in there!

  2. Ahaha I have slow internet but the second video finally loaded and I see that they even mention studio ghibli themselves! I went there just a few weeks ago, before the earthquakes hit Japan.

  3. I really knew animation was that difficult to understand, or am I a benefactor of Disney’s explanation of decades ago? Would could be simpler than the flip book to explain animation anyway?

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