Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Arts, Media & Entertainment

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Mike Morris

Persistence of Vision-Muybridge

Part of Unit: Animation Process

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

This lesson is an introducion to the beginning of the animated film and a study of the father of this medium. The motion studies created by Edweard Muybridge are considered to be the bridge between photography and animation/film. We will look at Muybridges motion studies and talk about his work. We will discuss Persistence of vision and how Muybridge exploited this phenomenon through his motion studies and in the process bridged the gap between still image and motion picture.

Lesson Time

Time allocated for Lesson
2 Hours


Objectives and Goals

In this lesson students will be introduced to Edweard Muybridge in the historical context as he relates to animation and the bridge between photography, animation, and motion pictures. Students will be asked to hypothesise on the very problem Muybridge encountered and take a look at how he was able to solve a complex problem by developing a photographic process that captured the first motion picture.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Activity #1 Hooks / Set
    • When students come to class a video clip will be playing footage of a horse race on the LCD projector.
    • After the students have had a chance to watch the video the instructor will pose this question to students-Do all four of a horses feet leave the ground when a horse is running? Discuss as a class.

    Resources and Materials

  • Activity #2 Lecture

    After discussing the race, give students a brief history about Edweard Muybridge and the bet that led to the motion picture.

    Leland Stanford was the eighth Governor of Califronia, serving from January 1862 to December 1863. In 1872 Stanford hired Edweard Muybridge, a world famous photographer and father of the motion picture, to prove whether all of a horses hooves leave the ground when in full gallop. Most people of that time believed that a horse always had one foot on the ground. Stanford believed otherwise and made a $25,000 bet with some of his friends, so the legend goes. To prove his point he hired Muybridge.

    In order to prove the point, Muybridge had to invent a special camera system with a very fast shutter. He set up 24 cameras on a race track. The cameras were connected to trip wires that the horse set off as it galloped. Muybridge used 24 cameras arranged parallel to the track and spaced 27 inches apart. Muybridge was able to capture the horses full gallop and settle the bet.

    Watch the film clip of Muybridge's motion study of the horse.

    Resources and Materials

  • Activity #3 Lecture

    Show students the picture of the Muybridge motion study of the horse. Talk with students about persistence of vision. Emphasize the fact that Muybridge was not making films, but rather image sequences. We can now look at his work as a film, but at the time his work was viewed primarily as a sequence of still images or as a "Flip Book" through a device called a Zoopraxiscope.

    Persistence of vision is-

    The ability of the eye to retain the impression of an image for a short time after the image has disappeared.

    Muybridge was able to take his background in photography and combine it with the phenomenon persistence of vision. By doing so he bridged the gap between photography and motion pictures. His "Motion Studies" are the first motion pictures.

    Resources and Materials

  • Activity #4 Demo / Modeling

    If you have access to a film projector and motion picture film follow this activity, otherwise skip to the next one. Your school/county library may have a projector and film you could use.

    • start the film projector playing a loop of motion picture film.
    • After students have had a chance to watch the film loop the film will be stopped, removed from the projector, and analyzed on a light table.
    • The film will be specifically investigated as a series of individual pictures placed together on celluloid.
    • Discuss the relationship of the individual pictures and how they work together to form a motion picture, i.e.-Persistence of vision.


  • Activity #5 Demo / Modeling

    Conclude the lesson by showing some more of Muybridges motion studies, emphasising the revolutionary vision Muybridge had of looking past the still image and seeing motion contained in a series of still images.

    Resources and Materials

    • Muybridge_With_Stills [ Download ] null


Assessment Types:
Writing Samples, Observations,

At the end of the lesson ask students to write down in their own words what Persistence of Vision is.