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July 2020 · Product Design · For: Maresch & Sturm


→ A motorized turntable that can be equipped with scenery is divided into 16 sections that light up 16 times per revolution, creating the illusion of animation.

picture of a working zoetrope
the zoetrope


A zoetrope is a rotating animation device consisting of a spinning platform and a synchronous strobe light system. A carrier plate with a two- or three-dimensional scenery can be placed on the rotating plate. The illusion of animation is created by rotating the plate while simultaneously flashing the scenery in time. For example, the plate is divided into 16 frames and flashed accordingly. 16 frames per rotation results in 16 flashes per rotation.

What for

The project is the result of a collaboration between the motion design studio Maresch & Sturm and my friend, the Viennese artist/designer Michael Schmidl. The Zoetrope is intended to vividly convey the basic principles of animated film in various learning situations and invites you to create your own interchangeable sceneries for the animation device via the interchangeable cover plate.

3d-prints of a bayonet catch
testing bayonet catch


Inside the converted turntable is a DC motor that can be operated at two speeds. The 12 V input current is also passed to a custom circuit board that controls the light. To properly expose the animation, the light pulse is transmitted via 3 DC sockets to 1 A LEDs with custom housings on 1/4-inch magic-arms. The lamp housings are equipped with a bayonet catch so that colored inserts or diffusors can be placed in front of the LED.

prototype of LED housing
lamp-pod prototype

Frame Exposure

The rotary part of the Zoetrope houses a custom ring with 16 magnetic inserts. Since the geometry of the ring is matched to the frames, the magnetic polarity changes with each frame. This change in polarity is measured with a Hall sensor and serves as a trigger for a monostable multivibrator (monoflop) whose pulse can be adjusted with a "focus" potentiometer. "Focus" because the duration of the exposure (or flash) simultaneously constrols the amount of motion blur. The LEDs in the magic arms are then fed with power via a mosfet.

a clear view of a pcb
LED-flash controller by Elias Mack
pcb with a lot of wires
all wired up
aniamted gif of a spinning zoetrope
testing LED-flash


The Zoetrope platform is ready, but the scenery never will be. Although we are currently working on a three-dimensional scenery, the long-term idea is to make the platform available for workshops and educational institutions to creatively explore this tangible style of animated film.

picture of a working zoetrope
testing animation by ©Tim Maresch


The project was developed for Maresch & Sturm in collaboration with Michael Schmidl. Electronics by Elias Mack.