Fans of traditional flipbooks now have the opportunity to indulge their passion for miniature motion pictures with a new device being developed in Los Angeles. FlipBooKit, currently one of KickStarter’s top fundraising art projects, is a contemporary version of 19th century devices designed to create the illusion of movement. It is the brainchild of multimedia team Mark Rosen and Wendy Marvel.

As far as hardware goes, it consists of a cardboard outer case, which houses a tiny motor that rotates a spindle, making flexible cards flip to produce the illusion of moving pictures. To make it more fun, the boxes are connected so the flipping images segue from box to box, adding another layer of illusion to the apparatus.

The device holds 24 frames but the makers say they can provide extra frame cards with each kit. Animation can be in color, because the device can display anything the user wants. True to the spirit of the digital age, the project also features an online collaborative element. The team is currently programming a free application that will allow the user to upload their own video or animation and then download the frames for the FlipBooKit cards and print them at home. To get an idea of some of the animations that Mark and Wendy have developed, check their Headless Horseman.

As part of the FlipBooKit concept, several Art Paks are being developed. One of them is called Steampunk kit, in a clear reference to the system’s Victorian ancestry. There’s also the 3D FlipBooKit, which comes with glasses. A FlipBooKit Hackathon is also in the plans with Crashspace and a few other Hackerspaces.

The idea for the kit started last year when the team toured art galleries and events with their more robust and complex mechanical flipbook. The system was based on motion studies of Earweard Muybridge, a pioneer of motion picture projection, and generated a fair amount of buzz, landing the device a place at the Maker Faire 2012. Since Mark and Wendy are big fans of sharing and the limited edition models they showed are quite expensive, they decided to make a popular, accessible version of it for mass consumption. And so FlipBooKit was born.

To turn the project into a consumer-friendly reality, they drafted in Steven Goldstein, an inventor with 12 patents under his belt and a stint as a “Disney imagineer”. Goldstein has vast experience in stewarding products from concept through production and then into distribution.

The project’s Kickstarter deadline is Monday October 29 and several funding options are on offer. See the video below for more.

Sources: KickStarter, Mechanical Flipbook