prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

The Magic of Motion Pictures

Posted by prof e on October 4, 2015

Movies, aka films, aka motion pictures, are actually optical illusions. To capture motion on film, or as digital bits, simply involves capturing still images in quick succession. How quickly depends on how much temporal resolution you want to capture…but for the illusion to be believable it should probably be, at a minimum, in the neighborhood of 18-24 frames each second. That’s it…just a new picture every 18th to 24th of a second and our eye/brain thinks it is seeing motion. Persistence of vision is the technical phrase used to explain the illusion that makes motion pictures possible.

So when you see TV or film images flicker on the screen just realize that you’re really seeing a bunch of still pictures displayed at a rate that is fooling your brain into thinking that you’re seeing motion. Animation is based on the same principle. There are many forms of animation, but if you remember Gumby, or the California Raisins, you can thank stop-motion animators for this technique that involves taking a photograph, then moving a real object in front of the camera, then taking another photograph…repeat until you’ve made a short movie. I once shot a claymation TV commercial for a local cable TV company and I can tell you that it is a very tedious process.

Equally tedious is a process of animating drawings to create a fluid appearance of motion. Check out this ad from Honda…

According to Ad Age,

The spot, called “Paper,” weaves together roughly 3,000 hand-drawn illustrations using stop-motion filming that takes viewers through a paper-flipping, historical journey of Honda products.

So if motion is an illusion, what do you call a short film made up of many very short motion clips? Move.


2 Responses to “The Magic of Motion Pictures”

  1. Destiny Gray said

    This post relates to what we have been learning in class because on Thursday we were discussing claymations and movies like those. Motion Picture movies make it seem like they are videos being put together but just 24 pictures being put together to make 1 second of a movie. In claymation all you do is move the character, which is made out of clay, in different positions and when you move it into a different position you take a picture of it, Then, when the pictures are put together they create a movie. Also in class, we talked about the shots per second and how they are placed together, how they’re not actual videos. Movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and movies like these are examples of motion picture movies.

  2. Courtney Wilder said

    Motion pictures really are optical illusions, because it takes a lot to create one that actually takes the viewer to a new reality. This relates to what we are learning in class right now, because we just watched a similar video about flip book images that could make a single image moved slightly from page to page into a movie like experience. It takes a very long time to create an actual movie like this, as well as a lot of work due to how little you can move at once without ruining the film. Gumby I agree is a great example of this, because in a way you can tell that the creator is moving each clay piece a little bit at a time while taking still shots.

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