Famous Horse Gets Animated

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Still from animation by Emily Zhu

Still from animation by Emily Zhu

Animation students at Carnegie Mellon University have put a delightful new twist on classic racehorse film footage.

In the 1870s, racehorse owner, and former governor of California, Leland Stanford, famously commissioned Eadweard Muybridge to prove whether a galloping horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at one point in its sequence of motion. To solve the question, Muybridge rapidly photographed a racehorse in motion, then copied his images in the form of silhouettes onto a disc to be viewed in a machine he had invented, called a zoopraxiscope.

The zoopraxiscope was later regarded as an early movie projector, and Muybridge’s process as an influential step toward motion pictures or cinematography. Even if the history is unfamiliar, the film likely is not.

The Carnegie Mellon University animation students reimagined Muybridge’s classic film footage, using a technique known as rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films. The process allows animators to accurately capture human and animal motion, and has been used to much fanfare in films such as Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

From the ribbon horse to a dancing fountain, the results are surely amusing and sometimes exquisite. Take a look and pick your favorite!

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