Participants of a four days Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach at the Offener Kanal in Kassel.

A Zoetrope workshop with four modules in Kassel, Germany


Workshop Subject

The four-day Zoetrope workshop took place at the public-access television in Kassel from 2 to 4 January 2024.

An everage of seven adult participants took part and developed an effective animation of repetitive movements on paper strips and disks. With the help of the historical optical device, a zoetrope*, we broke down the production process into small work steps and repeatedly checked the intermediate results until the animation led to the desired movement. In this way, one or two animated films of just under one second were created in one day.

On the next days we made zoetropes in module 2, set animations in motion with stroboscopic light in module 3, added music to the animations or digitized the animations to produce a film version in module 4.

The participants continued to animate throughout the days and developed ever more sophisticated animations based on the experience gained.

The final highlight of the workshop was the final presentation of the results with music as a performance on various optical devices.


*The Zoetrope were developed in 1834 before the invention of film. The device can be used to show images in motion. Typical representations are, for example, walking, waving or jumping cartoon figures.

See a few clips of the results.

Workshop Modules 1-4

9 January 2024, Module 1
Animation on Paper Strips – Working with the Zoetrope

To learn about the physical functioning of a Zoetrope, we created a cartoon animation on a strip of paper and uses the optical device to check the animation. With the help of this device, the principle of the film is made comprehensible.

Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach, modul 2 - making a zoetrope, on the image Tobias Haff

10 January 2024, Module 2
Zoetrope self-made

How are the number of drawings and the slits in the wall, the diameter of the drum and the speed of rotation of the Zoetrope related? While tinkering with the device, the function and the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of construction were made comprehensible. The homemade Zoetrope could be taken home.

Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach, modul 2 - making a zoetrope, on the image Ludger Hollmann
Thomas Stellmach tinkers a zoetrope.
Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach, modul 2 - making a zoetrope, on the image Ludger Hollmann

11 January 2024, Module 3
Animation on Discs – Working with Strobe Light

More possibilities opened two- and three-dimensional animation on a disc. We used strobe light to make the movement visible and experimented with the flash frequency and duration and changed the brightness.

Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach, modul 3 - animating on disk, on the image Susanne Bayoud

12 January 2024, Module 4
Producing a Film based on the Animations and Music

The app Music Maker JAM was used to compose music in a simple way. The animations were photographed using stop-motion techniques and exported as a film together with music using film editing software.

Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach, modul 4 - music design, on the image - Claudia Tiemann, Norhayati Kaprawi
Zoetrope workshop by Thomas Stellmach, modul 4 - recording the animation, on the image - Tobias Haff, Matthias Kurowski

12 January 2024
Final Presentation

Together, a final presentation of all workshop results were prepared and presented in the evening on different optical devices.

Feedback of a participant

A workshop that opens up completely new creative possibilities and enables impressive results in a short time.

Many thanks, best wishes and continued success in bringing the joy of animation to the world.


Upcoming Zoetrope workshop and other useful links

Find out about the dates of my next Zoetrope workshop or ask me about my next plans.

Here you will find general information about my Zoetrope workshop, such as a short explanation of the zoetrope, a making-of film or an extraordinary presentation of the results.

Read reports of my other Zoetrope workshops.