The ‘Toy Story’ Zoetrope & Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli Inspiration [animation]

<<< Please DO NOT watch these if you suffer from epilepsy. >>>

A zoetrope is a picture wheel device that produces an optical illusion of motion, from a rapid succession (usually spinning) of static pictures. It produces the same effect as flipbook drawings do. Except Pixar has gone and 1UP’d the Zoetrope by using real 3D objects instead of 2D pictures.

Pixar made a zoetrope at Disney’s California Adventure Park, but they used sculptures and strobe lights instead.

Some of the first elementary Zoetrope’s played an important evolutionary role during the early stages of moviemaking and animation history.

What’s cooler is the fact that Pixar drew inspiration for this ‘3D’ Zoetrope from none other than Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli and their “Bouncing Totoro” Zoetrope; Pixar’s immediate antecedent:


The “Bouncing Totoro” zoetrope is a 3D project consisting out of 347 figures which took nearly a year to finish. It was made by HAL with Yuzo Nishitani as head of the group. Production was started with the vague goal of creating something “fantastic” that would make anyone stop and gaze in awe for at least a few minutes.

Following Miyazaki’s wishes, the movement of the figures was initially to be based on the scene at the bus stop from “My Neigbor Totoro” where the Totoro jumps up holding an umbrella, and comes down hard making Mei and Satsuki bounce up in reaction.

However, some people thought that more kinds of movement would be needed to have people stop for a few minutes, and the scale of the idea continued to escalate. The repeating movements – Bouncing Totoro, running Cat Bus, flapping bat wings – were decided immediately, but as ideas continued to expand, the numbers of figures expanded as well.

Katsuya Kondo was in charge of the key animation and media artist Toshio Iwai helped a great deal in conceiving a LED device to be used instead of powerful strobe lights which hurt the eye, and in making a layout plan using a computer for the positioning of the figures. To allow the viewers to see how the rows of figures appear to be moving, they decided not to have the display in full rotation all times, but to start with the platform stopped, then make it gradually start rotating, and then after a while to have it stop again. Miyazaki himself decided the timing with his stopwatch.

~ by Fionnlagh on November 20, 2010.

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