Pov: The Wonderful World of Illusions

Have you ever saw a flip book and experienced how the pages  seem to make up an animation, even though they are just flipping very fast? If you have, you experienced Pov. Pov isn’t the name of a brand or product; it just stands for persistence of vision. What that means is that your vision can only see things so fast, and that it makes the illusion it is moving.


Animation by Jan-Eric Nyström, Helsinki, Finland

As an example, Pov is used for the animation to the left (to see it, click on it). It is licensed under creative commons license. For information about the creative commons license, click here. The animation is made up of many frames, going from one to the other very fast.  Online, people usually put images like this in GIF format (instead of JPG or PNG).

To demonstrate Pov, you can make a flip book. You can make one by:

  1. Cut 5 sheets of paper into quarters.
  2. Draw something on the first sheet, then draw something slightly different on the next one. Keep doing this until you have all the pages drawn on.
  3. Staple them all together.
  4. Flip through them. You should see an animation!

That is only a simple way to demonstrate Pov.  Crayola used it in its digital light designer. With that product you have a stylus where you can draw on a dome. How it works is complicated. A simple explanation is that there is a ring of lights that spin round and round. They are hooked up to a computer chip, which controls the ring of lights. The stylus is equipped with something (probably an infrared light, like whats on your TV remote, but I don’t know) that submits a signal to the dome. The stylus’s signal, draws the line. That is a simple explanation of how the Crayola Digital Light Designer works.

There are still other things Pov is used in. If you search Amazon for “POV kits” you can find some kits you could build that create coll illusions!


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