How to build a Zoetrope – Page 2

Halve the circumference, and divide it by pi (3.14l59) etc. since you’re making a Victorian toy, try the maths without a calculator, for a change!) to get the radius of the circular bottom of your drum: make this as stiff as possible and drill a hole in the centre to take the spindle: I used a Meccano axle with large Meccano wheels above and below the base to stop it wobbling about when spinning.

Now mark and cut out the slits in the card, one slit per frame-line you’re using for the drum, using your strip of frames, (not a ruler) as a guide and wrap it round the base. Sellotape did the job nicely for me, but use what you like as long as it sticks.

Draw your sequence of drawings on the strip once you have marked out one, you can mass-produce them – and drop it into the drum with the pictures facing inwards. Fix the spindle into a secure base, so that your ZOOTROPE (yes, that’s all there is to it!) can turn freely, spin it, and look through the slits.

I have mounted my ZOOTROPE on the works of an old clock which I dismantled at the age of six – perhaps you could fix yours to an electric motor, or just turn it by hand.

Your sequence strip should look like a piece of giant film without sprocket holes.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 7 (Winter 1983)