DIY Zoetrope

Buying a real Zoetrope is expensive! I recently introduced my students to some basic animation principles, and thought it might be fun to create some animation strips. The main problem was my lack of Zoetrope. After browsing various internet shops in hope of picking up a cheap one, it seems the only options are rather expensive antiques or small, cheap kids toys.

I came across a few DIY Zoetrope videos on YouTube. All required materials I didn’t have access to. I did have an empty sweet tub, cardboard and an empty CD spindle.

Materials Required:

You will need:

  • Round sweet tub
  • Empty CD spindle and plastic case
  • Black card (A3)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue
Zoetrope Base

Cut the CD spindle case cover and glue onto the base of the sweet tub

  1. Cut the excess plastic from the CD spindle lid
  2. Glue this onto the base of the sweet tub, make sure the dimple is pointing inwards.
  3. Once the glue has dried place this on top of the spindle (no glue required), it should spin
  4. Place the A3 card, curved round the inside of the sweet tub, ensure it goes round the full circumference
  5. Mark with the pencil and cut to length
  6. Make sure when this is inserted you leave a few inches, mark this with the pencil, and trim the paper into a long rectangle
  7. Measure the length and divide this by twelve, mark these with pencil
  8. Cut small slits 1/4 inch wide down about a third of the card
  9. Use these same measurements to create your animation strips – these should be the same length as the black card, divided into 12 boxes, and should be about a third of the height of the card (Tip: photocopy this template for more animation fun!)
  10. Fit the black card into the sweet tub and glue into place
  11. Create your animation on the blank animation strip (cyclical ones work best)
  12. Place this in the tub, and line up the marks between frames with the slits
  13. Spin, enjoy!
CD Spindle base

Attach the lid to the spindle.

Card slits

Measure the circumference, divide by 12 and cut small slits into the card before gluing

Final Zoetrope Construction

A simple, effective, cheap and easy design

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