Participants of the Zoetrope workshop, hold by Thomas Stellmach. at the Gymnasium An der Stenner in Iserlohn.

Zoetrope Workshop Module 1 in Iserlohn, Germany

On Saturday, 29 October 2022, I held a spinning animation workshop for a group of talented and motivated pupils at the Gymnasium An der Stenner in Iserlohn, Germany.  

Learning the technical principle of film with a historical optical device

In our Zoetrope Workshop we worked with two historical optical devices, so-called zoetropes or praxinoscopes. These primitive, technical inventions from the 19th century played an important role in the development of film. The simple, amazing way these devices work made it easier for the workshop participants to understand the principle of film.

The participants, aged 11 to 19, have had the task of drawing a short animation cycle with 15 different images on a strip of paper. They have checked their animation using the optical devices.

In German language.

In our Zoetrope Workshop we worked with two historical optical devices, so-called zoetropes or praxinoscopes. These primitive, technical inventions from the 19th century played an important role in the development of film. The simple, amazing way these devices work made it easier for the workshop participants to understand the principle of film.

In German language.

The participants, aged 11 to 19, have had the task of drawing a short animation cycle with 15 different images on a strip of paper. They have checked their animation using the optical devices.

The Course of the Zoetrope Workshop

During the workshop, I personally advised each of the 16 pupils. Some teachers also participated with great enthusiasm and developed an animation strip.

When the first half-finished animation strips were ready for review, the pupils were happily surprised by their successful animations. The other participants rushed over and marvelled at the first outcomes. A productive dynamic quickly spread among all the participants.

Nobody noticed how fast the time passed. Suddenly the school clock announced the end of the workshop. The first curious parents came into our workshop. The school headmaster and the press also joined in. After only a few minutes, many guests gathered around the zoetrope and the praxinoscope, where the pupils proudly presented their coloured animation on the paper strips. The teachers and I were very relieved and delighted to see this crowd of happy people. All those involved have succeeded in completing an animation strip in four hours.

Afterwards, there was a small buffet as a reward. Interesting and personal conversations developed over delicious snacks and drinks.

During the workshop, I personally advised each of the 16 pupils. Some teachers also participated with great enthusiasm and developed an animation strip.

When the first half-finished animation strips were ready for review, the pupils were quite taken with their successful animations. The other participants rushed over and marvelled at the first attempts. A productive dynamic quickly spread among all the participants.

Nobody noticed how fast the time passed. Suddenly the school clock announced the end of the workshop. The first curious parents came into our workshop. The school headmaster and the press also joined in. After only a few minutes, many guests gathered around the zoetrope and the praxinoscope, where the pupils proudly presented their coloured animation on the paper strips. The teachers and I were very relieved and delighted to see this crowd of happy people. All those involved have succeeded in completing an animation strip in four hours.

Afterwards, there was a small buffet as a reward. Interesting and personal conversations developed over delicious snacks and drinks.

Screening and Discussion

As a highlight, later in the afternoon I showed four of my animated short films to the participants and invited guests. As the highlight of the event, I presented four of my animated short films to the participants and guests for one hour later that afternoon. Among them was the 1997 Oscar-winning stop-motion film QUEST. The young and adult viewers followed the films with great attention and showed lively reactions.

Afterwards, I explained how the films were made. The audience asked me interesting questions about them and the Oscar. The themes of the films (The Last Leaf, Quest, The Sausage Run and Virtuoso Virtual) were also discussed. We spoke about the visual language of the films as well as about my professional career and my artistic way of working. I was very pleased with this dialogue. I rarely get as many questions as I did in Iserlohn.

With the knowledge acquired in the workshop, the participants were able to understand well the extensive work on my animated films.

As a highlight, later in the afternoon I showed four of my animated short films to the participants and invited guests. As the highlight of the event, I presented four of my animated short films to the participants and guests for one hour later that afternoon. Among them was the 1997 Oscar-winning stop-motion film QUEST. The young and adult viewers followed the films with great attention and showed lively reactions.

Afterwards, I explained how the films were made. The audience asked me interesting questions about them and the Oscar. The themes of the films (The Last Leaf, Quest, The Sausage Run and Virtuoso Virtual) were also discussed. We spoke about the visual language of the films as well as about my professional career and my artistic way of working. I was very pleased with this dialogue. I rarely get as many questions as I did in Iserlohn.

With the knowledge acquired in the workshop, the participants were able to understand well the extensive work on my animated films.

Press and Feedback

Read an article from the newspaper publisher ‘Iserlohner Kleinanzeiger’ (right) or three feedbacks from guests Windisch, Mestekamper, Gies in German.

Get more information about my animation workshops, film presentations or next events.

With the kind permission of ‘Iserlohner Kleinanzeiger’.