Pictures of Eadweard Muybridge

The biography of Muybridge can be found in the Inquiry Attic article on his life and work, but it can be found all over the Internet as well. On the path photography took in its evolution, Muybridge played a very pivotal role in the early development of motion pictures with the publication of his motion photographs in 1887.

The fascinating part about his work is the breadth and depth of his study of animal motion. Even today, there is no comparable work. He studied over 750 types of animal motion, such as running deer, trotting horses and the like. He also studied people in motion, doing a wide variety of activities. The artists and scientists of his day were deeply affected, and many behaviors were finally acknowledged that were previously unseen.

How did he do it? Originally, in 1878, he set up twelve cameras, each 21 inches apart, mechanically rigged to go off as the animal passed over wires connected to each camera. In the original experiment, all twelve cameras went off in 1/2 a second. Eventually Muybridge used 24 cameras set apart by twelve inches. He even had cameras set at different angles to make synchronized photographs.

Eventually Muybridge developed a device that would allow his photographs to be projected in motion. It consisted of a glass disk with copies of the photographs in sequence, and a metal disk with radiating slots. These were rotated in front of a bright light and the projection was close to life size. This machine was reportedly so good a horse owner was able to distinguish his horses from that of others in the projections.

Why don't you pretend you are living in the late 1800's. Let's see if you can predict animal behavior from what you imagine animals do.

To the left are some links to animal motion pages. Each of these links show you an animation clip of the animal motion. The question of Muybridge's day was whether animals lift all hooves off the ground when engaged in the activity of running or trotting. Do you know? Click the links and see!