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Build Your Own Old School Animation Device [Instructables How-To]

Build Your Own Old School Animation Device [Instructables How-To]

Yesterday we celebrated the work of revered Japanese manga artist and animator Hayao Miyazaki, who’s responsible for giving most Westerners their first taste of the manga arts through Disney-distributed classics like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. So, in that spirit, this week’s Instructables How-To will teach you how to build your own animation machine without the fancy software or skilled slight of hand.

Instructables user MFJones employs the technique of phenakistoscopic animation, which is a style that emerged in the 1800s that traditionally uses a spinning disk marked with slits attached to a handle. When a frame-by-frame drawn animation is placed inside, the drawings seem to come to life once the handle is spun. This Mario version works similarly.

Some materials you’ll need include a compass, ruler, cardboard, glue, a box-cutter, pencil and print outs of video game sprites (find Mario ones here).

First off, cut out two circles from the cardboard, one for the shutter spinner and one for the animation disk, which should be 2-3 inches smaller in diameter. Make sure to clearly mark the center dot (where the compass will go) because everything will revolve around this. Decide how many frames you want your animation to have (MFJones used 33), keeping in mind that more frames (smaller “pizza slices”) will give you a smoother animation and less detail, while fewer frames (larger “pizza slices”) will give you a rougher animation but more detail. Using your compass, map out your frames and then center the animation disc on the shutter spinner and trace. This line will show how long your shutters will be. Make two vertical cuts on the shutter spinner along each frame line and then pop them out.

Now mark in where you want your question boxes to go, print out and color your Mario sprites, then map out the key frames of Mario’s journey (start, middle and about to fall) on the animation disc before you attach permanently. MFJones added the Goomba character jumping the opposite way for an added effect.

Tape down the animation wheel so it stays put and then jam a pencil through the center of the shutter and animation wheels. Spin the device in a mirror, looking through the shutter slits from behind.

When you’re finished it should look something like this!

Visit the Instructables How-To for further instruction, more detailed photographs and tips on where to buy materials.