It is an early animation device that predated the movie camera. It was invented in 1877 by Charles-Emile Reynaud of France. It was an improvement upon an earlier device called zoetrope.

The praxinoscope consists of a rotating drum whose inside rim is lined with a strip of pictures containing a succession of consecutive images. The strip may show a clown juggling, horse galloping, trapeze artist in action, etc.

At the centre is a small cylinder covered with mirrors, equal to the number of pictures in the rotating drum. When the drum is spun by hand, the pictures on the strip are reflected in the mirror. The observer sees a rapid succession of images, giving an illusion of a moving image.

Reynaud later called hid praxinoscope Theatre Optique (Optical Theatre) and used it as a part of his shows. He developed it further, projecting the image on a large screen for his audiences. It was very popular until 1900 when it was eclipsed by the cinematograph of the Lumiere Brothers.


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