Phenakistoscope  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The phenakistoscope (also spelled phenakistiscope) was an early animation device, the predecessor to the zoetrope. It was invented in 1831 simultaneously by the Belgian Joseph Plateau and the Austrian Simon von Stampfer.

One variant of the phenakistoscope was a spinning disc mounted vertically on a handle. Around the center of the disc a series of pictures was drawn corresponding to frames of the animation; around its circumference was a series of radial slits. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc's reflection in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images kept them from simply blurring together, so that the user would see a rapid succession of images with the appearance of a motion picture (see also persistence of vision). Another variant had two discs, one with slits and one with pictures; this was slightly more unwieldy but needed no mirror. Unlike the zoetrope and its successors, the phenakistoscope could only practically be used by one person at a time.

The word "phenakistoscope" comes from Greek roots meaning "deceiving viewer".

The Special Honorary Joseph Plateau Award, a replica of Plateau's original phenakisticope, is presented every year to a special guest of the Flanders International Film Festival whose achievements have earned a special and distinct place in the history of international film making.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Phenakistoscope" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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