Absolut Panushka, Jan-Apr 1997.
Painting on Film
Animation has a history that goes back much further than celluloid film. In the 19th century, "animated" parlor toys were very popular, and some toys, like flip-books, zoetropes and phenakistoscopes, are still popular today.
The thumatrope is the simplest cameraless tool. It consists of a small disk attached to two pieces of string. There is a different image on each side of the disk, i.e., a face on one side and a mustache on the other. When one twirls the disk by twisting the string, the viewer sees a face with a mustache. This phenomenum is called "persistence of vision," the fundamental principle for making anything appear to move.
The phenakistoscope is a slotted disk with 8-12 consecutive images drawn around its perimeter. If one holds the toy up to a mirror (with the illustrated side facing the mirror) and spins the disk while looking through a slot, the images projected in the mirror will animate.
The zoetrope uses this same technique of looking through a slot at a sequence of drawn images. However, the drawn images are placed inside a slotted circular drum.
Flip-books are essentially hand-held short films. Each page in the flip-book has a slightly different drawing. When the pages are flipped, the images appear to move.
The most modern form of cameraless animation, developed in the 1930s, is done directly on a piece on celluloid film. Scratches made directly on black leader or marks made with pen or paint on clear leader have their own characteristic look when the filmstrip is projected. Some animators have developed intricate ways to create whole films scratched on black leader with dentist tools or stick pens, or drawn on clear leader with permanent markers or tiny handmade stamps. These films are complete as soon as the artwork is rendered, requiring no filming, developing or editing!
Moritz, William. "History of Experimental Animation." Website. Absolut Panushka, curated by Christine Panushka. (Jan-Apr 1997).