April 9 – Happy Birthday, Eadweard Muybridge

Posted on April 9, 2014

This fellow was a pioneer in motion picture technology.

It's a bit shocking to realize that someone born on this date in 1830 could be involved with the movie biz, isn't it?

Muybridge was born in England (but had some Dutch ancestors) and came to the United States as a young man. He took up professional photography and in 1868 became world famous for his photos of Yosemite. A decade later he began experimenting with using multiple cameras to capture motion—the major reason he is famous today.

Muybridge's experiments with using stop-motion photography with multiple cameras in order to capture motion began in 1872 at the request of former California Governor Leland Stanford. He set up many cameras along a racetrack to be triggered by threads as a horse passed at a gallop. (Later, he created clockwork devices to set off camera shutters and capture images.) With these multiple photographs of a galloping horse, Muybridge could answer the hotly debated question of whether a galloping horse has all four feet off the ground during certain moments. (The answer is “yes.”) 

Muybridge then went on to devise a zoopraxiscope to rapidly project silhouettes of the images, one after another, to give the illusion of movement.

Of course, this invention isn't used now, but it is considered an early sort of movie projector.
A zoopraxiscope disc

What's in a name?

The moment I read Eadweard Muybridge's name, I wondered about it—especially that unusual spelling for the quite ordinary name Edward. It turns out, his birth name was Edward James Muggeridge. While living and working in the U.S., he messed around with his last name, changing it to Muggridge and then Muygridge and finally Muybridge. He also used the pseudonym Helios, which is how he signed many of his photos. (Helios was what Muybridge used as the name of his studio and as the middle name of his only son.)

While traveling around for more than a year in Central America, Muybridge advertised himself as Eduardo Santiago Muybridge. And after a return to his native England, Muybridge decided to use an Old English variation of Edward: Eadweard. (Which I think is a bit a weird. Which makes me wonder—is “Eadweard” pronounced like “Edward,” or is it pronounced “Ed – weird”?)

By the way, Muybridge's tombstone has an error – it reads “Eadweard Maybridge.”

  • These days, many kids -
    even little kids - have
    access to cameras that
    can make movies!
    Learn more about Muybridge. Here is a documentary called “The Weird World of Eadweard Muybridge.” 
  • Find out how modern movie projectors work here, and how all sorts of moving image machines work here.

  • Things are of course completely different now that we have computers and digital cameras and such! Here is a video about how to use Photoshop to “animate” a photo. 

Also on this date:

(A.K.A.) Finnish Language Day

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

No comments:

Post a Comment