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Established 15,000 B.C.

Volume , November 1877.

Emile Reynaud
The Praxinoscope

The praxinoscope was invented in 1877 by the Frenchman Emile Reynaud This was the first device to overcome the picture distortion caused by viewing the images through the moving slots of both the Zoetrope and the Phenakistoscope.  The image produced is more brilliant than with any previous devices.  Because of this advance, it quickly replaces the Zoetrope in popularity. 

It's basic function is very similar to that of the Zoetrope; a band of pictures is placed inside a shallow outer cylinder, so that each picture is reflected by the inner set of mirrors.  The number of mirrors is equal to the number of pictures.

  When the outer cylinder rotates, the quick succession of images gives the illusion of a moving picture when the pictures are viewed in the mirrors.. 

Using this same principle, Reynaud found a way to project the series of pictures onto a screen.  He called this the "Theatre Optique."  A standard praxinoscope, like the one above, can only accomodate about one second of animation because of the limited number of pictures it contains (12 in the model shown here).  Reynaud's "Theatre Optique" used a long roll of paper to increase the number of pictures, and was therefore able to create a much longer show for an audience. 

In 1892, he began showing his films at the Musee Grevin in Paris. "Poor Pierrot", 15 minutes, "A Good Glass Of Beer", 15 minutes and "A Clown And His Dogs", 10 minutes had musical accompaniments and electrically triggered sound effects.

Between 1892 and 1900, Reynaud gave an estimated 500,000 performances. Because he was a one man show, he could not compete with the growing film industry and was replaced in the publics eye by the more sophisticated works of Emile Cohl and Georges Melies.

Financially ruined and depressed, he threw most of his films and equipment in the river Seine one evening in 1910. Eight years later, he died in a sanatorium, wretched and forgotten.
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