The photo’s of Eadweard Muybridge

        Category: # 8 Spring 1984 | Article posted on: January 12, 2010

An interesting incident is captured an plate 74. A pigeon has wandered in front of a performing acrobat and has been scared into flight and been captured by the cameras. There are more intentional studies of ‘Animals in Motion‘ in the so titled second book.

‘Animals in Motion’ has a more extensive text describing animal methods of locomotion. This text is quite useful as it points out things which the untrained (or unfamiliar) eye might miss. This book also has a more extensive section on Muybridge’s methods.

There is a considerable section on horses. There are horses being ridden and horses un-ridden, a horse ridden side saddle, and a horse walking with a bucket in its mouth, plus a horse rolling a box, and more. There are sections of photographs of:
Domestic animals, Wild Animals, and Birds — although it is said that Muybridge was less successful with birds because he could not control them. Despite that the plates of the homing pigeon in flight look very instructive (Plate 169). There are individual descriptions for a lot of the animals which give clues to the characteristics an animal might show.

Domestic animals include a trained bucking mule unseating a rider and performing other tricks. There are camels in action and a Guanaco (a what I thought — well, I had never heard of it!), elephants, and others. There are sections on dogs and cats.

Wild animals include lion and tigers. If you need it there is a set of pictures of a sloth walking upside down suspended from a bar (they do that). The pictures of deer leaping could add some life like action (plate 151) even though the photographic quality leaves something to be desired.

In the section on birds the pictures of the eagle took my interest because eventually I want to portray a bird of prey in a cel animation I am working on at the moment. Even the flightless ostrich is shown running and walking.

The text in the book ‘Animals in Motion’ tells us that quadrupeds employ eight different regular systems of progressive motion.

(1) The Walk
(2) The Amble
(3) The Trot
(4) The Rack (or Pace)
(5) The Canter
(6) The Transverse-gallop
(7) The Rotatory-gallop
(8) The Ricochet
(“In this enumeration crawling is omitted, it being simply a modified system of walking….”).

Muybridge was concerned mainly with the regular progression of the creatures although there are some examples of leaps, jumps, and rearing.

The text is supported by illustrative plates and also refers to the main collection of photographs. Muybridge employs a diagrammatic system to explain basically which feet are on the ground and which Are not in a particular point of a cycle of motion. This can also help in interpreting the photographs.
For me the book will be invaluable when it comes to animating four legged animals, I don’t have much knowledge of how they move. Progression on four feet is a very complicated business. Perhaps that is why Man walks upright!

There are notes on how animals change from one pattern of movement to another and this could prove worth study. These notes are illustrated by a series of silhouettes which show the changes of gait of a horse. These photographic silhouettes were photographed in 1879, before Muybridge had really got the best out of photography.

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