Medical Group Chairman's Award 2017

10 April 2017

SIG: Medical

Photo: Richard Poynter

                   Medical Group Chairman's Award 2017

                Awarded to Hoosain M Ebrahim ASIS FRPS

                                The Kinora Viewer

Throughout recorded history, man has attempted to reproduce the world of movement.  The Mutoscope was an early motion picture device, invented by WKL Dickson and Herman Casler.  It was later patented by Herman Casler on November 21, 1894.  The Mutoscope did not project on a screen and provided viewing to only one person at a time, similar to Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope.    

By the mid-1890’s in the USA, Edison’s Kinetoscope viewer which used fifty-foot rolls of Eastman Kodak film, had been installed in hundreds of small penny arcades around the country.  Other arcades had installed a competing system of viewing moving images known as the Mutoscope.


The Mutoscope worked on the same principle as the flip book.  The individual image frames were conventional black-and-white, silver-based photographic prints on tough, flexible opaque cards.  Rather than being bound into a booklet, the cards were attached to a 14cm diameter wheel.  This wheel is attached to an external crank which is turned by the viewer causing each of the pictures mounted on the wheel and held tensely bent into viewing position by a small metal piece (spring leaf) to flip over against a static peg.  As the cards flip by, the rapid hand-driven frame rate produces the illusion of movement brought about by the inability of the retina to signal rapidly changing intensities known as “persistence of vision” or “retention of image”.  The Mutoscope contributed to the better understanding of the principles of cinematography and those early inventions which may now appear to be relatively easy.  Furthermore, we can now understand that the appearance of continuous motion can be achieved without actually recording the entire cycle of movement.


The design of the Mutoscope which has a wooden base with a hinged wooden strip bearing mechanism, a supporting strut holds the viewer at approximately 45 degrees, viewing lens and metal eyeshield, did not rely on any special illumination or an electric motor.  Viewers had greater control over the viewing as they could control the speed at which the action took place.  The major inspiration of the Mutoscope was certainly the flipbook, a shorter, more primitive form of animation which was hand-drawn rather than recorded on film.  The Mutoscope’s predecessors other than the Kinetoscope included the Tachyscope, Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope and Demeny’s Phonoscope.  The major contemporary of the Mutoscope was the Lumiere Brothers’ Cinematographe in 1895.

Finally, the Mutoscope, despite its somewhat short existence stimulated other investigators in chronophotography, analysis and synthesis of motion, and in early cinematography.  There have been various studies and imaging attempts at comprehensive gait recording, the principal interest being patients with Parkinson’s Disease.  Mutoscopes can also be used to teach animation and how motion pictures were realized.


Hoosain M Ebrahim ASIS FRPS