Data + Design Project

Snail Trail: An Animated Laser Sculpture

Monday 09.24.2012 , Posted by
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It’s a surprising story of cultural evolution, one which travels a loop and comes back to its origin. Philipp Artus has created two beautiful animations, both titled Snail Trail, which follow the evolution of a snail as it invents the wheel, goes on an exciting evolving journey and returns to its terrestrial beginnings. This isn’t any normal animation though: Artus tells the captivating story using deceivingly simple wire-frame illustrations and a complex laser for illuminating the scene.

For his first version, Artus used a laser to project the story on the inside of a 360° column. In order to view the looping course of the snail, the audience had to walk around to follow its trail. As the projection surface is made of a phosphorescent material, the reason behind the choice of the endearingly slimy subject soon becomes apparent: as the snail travels around the column a glowing trail remains, slowly fading out after each looping pass. This first version of his project, and the accompanying video was a finalist at the 2012 Vimeo Awards. (continued below)

Now Artus has created a new version of his animation, using the same story but designed for the computer screen. Created as an entry and debuting at the Cartoon Brew online festival, the new version is just as arresting as the first. Its bright flashing execution really brings out the spirit of the rolling, manic pace of the story. To create this new version Artus once again projected the film with a laser, but this time recored it frame by frame with Dragon Stop Motion, finally doing post-production with After Effects. For more on the project check out the interview at Cartoon Brew or see Philipp Artus’ website.

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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