Edweard Muybridge - Photographic Pioneer

                               Google said, Eadweard J. Muybridge is celebrating his 182nd birthday on April 9th. But, who is this Eadweard Muybridge? Well, he was one of the world's most innovative and influential photographic pioneers. He is famous for pioneering animal locomotion using multiple cameras. He is also known to have influenced other great minds of his generation including Thomas Edison for his patenting of the motion picture camera.
  • He was born to a merchant family in kingston upon Thames on April 9th 1830. He relocated in San Francisco in 1855, working early on as a publisher's agent as well as a bookseller. He went back to England at the end of the decade only to go back to San Francisco in 1866.
  • He was said to have changed his name in 1870 during his early years in San Francisco as a tribute to King Eadweard. During that time he had built a solid reputation as a clever photographer with most of his works focusing on landscape subjects.
  • Before his death in 1904, he changed his name three times, came close to death and suffered from brain damage in a carriage accident. 
               In the summer of 1879, Muybridge invented his projection device, the Zoopraxiscope. His Zoopraxiscope occupies a fascinating position in the rich history of the moving and projected image, being the first device to animate sequences taken from photographs accurately. It also has links to many contemporary forms of moving image technology such as film, CGI. 
                The Zoopraxiscope brought together two existing visual technologies popular in the 19th century , a projection device known as the 'magic lantern', and a moving image toy called 'Phenakistoscope.' Other 19th century inventions had already projected moving images. Muybridge's Zoopraxiscope was so amazing to his audiences because it was the only device which used actual motion sequence photographs of movement, and therefore produced extremely lifelike moving images. 

'Zoopraxiscope' At Kingston Museum
                  Sequences coped from Muybridge's motion photography were painted onto the glass Zoopraxiscope discs. Muybridge chose to animate monkeys, kangaroos, dancing women, horses and leapfrogging boys among others. If Muybridge's painted images anticipate animated film, this photographic disc shows the beginning of photographic cinema.  

Animals In Motion
                   Muybridege took over 100,000 images of animals between 1884 and 1886. He had developed a method of taking photographs in quick succession in order to record a split-second of movement. His invention was put to the test by Leland Stanford , businessman  and racehorse owner. Stanford wanted to investigate whether all four of a horse's hooves left the ground when it cantered or galloped; something Muybridge's single shot motion photographs proved correct. 

                      This became known as motion sequence photography. Muybridge studied variety of creatures in this way, effectively stopping them mid-flight or mid-jump, freezing them in time against a grid. These images were very popular in Muybridge's time.

People In Motion
                  Using his motion sequence photography technique, Muybridge photographed men, women and children running , jumping , falling and carrying out athletic or everyday activities. The types of activity vary according to the gender of the model , giving us a view of how Muybridge perceived the roles of men , women , and children in the society. 

                              Muybridge inspired great minds like Jules Marey who recorded the first ever series of live motion using a single camera, and Thomas Edison, as well as William Dickson who is considered as the inventor of the modern day motion picture camera. He gave scientific lectures with the Zoopraxiscope by standing in front of a live audience. This tradition carried on into early film showings in theaters. Later in film history the lecturer moved behind the camera to become the narrator. 

                           Just think how it would have felt for the audience to see a moving image for the first time? To feel it, think of a time when you have seen something completely new, like a unexplainable phenomenon. Like Chaos theory, film, animation, CGI, 3D motion capture cameras all evolved and has some connections with Muybridge and his Zoopraxiscope. It also justifies his nickname, "Father of the Motion Picture."

Eadweard Muybridge - Wikipedia

1 comment:

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