Happy Birthday to the Father of Video!

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The Birth of Video!

The Drive Home is  paying tribute to motion picture innovator Eadweard J. Muybridge, a man whose 1878 series of photos known as “The Horse in Motion” was a precursor to motion pictures, television, and video.

If you search Google today, you will notice Google’s “Horse in Motion” Doodle. It appears as a strip of photos until you click a yellow play button. That puts the horse in motion on what seems to be an endless loop until you click on Google’s logo and you’re brought to a search results page for Eadweard J. Muybridge.

In 1872, former Governor of California Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse  owner, had taken a position on a popularly-debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse’s hooves are off the ground at the same time during the trot. Up until this time, most paintings of horses at full gallop showed the front legs extended forward and the hind legs extended to the rear. Stanford sided with the assertion of “unsupported transit”, and decided to have it proven scientifically. Stanford sought out Muybridge and hired him to settle the question.

In later studies, Muybridge used a series of large glass-plate cameras placed in a line, each one being triggered by a thread as the horse passed. Later a clockwork device was used. The images were copied in the form of silhouettes onto a disc and viewed in a machine called a zoopraxiscope. This in fact became an intermediate stage towards motion pictures or cinematography.

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