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Pop-Up Books Get the Magical Movie Treatment [Video]

Sound like a lot for one piece of art? Designers Davy and Kristin McGuire pull it off.

Pop-Up Books Get the Magical Movie Treatment [Video]

Intricate papercraft designs are mindblowing enough. But what happens when you add elements of film, puppet theater, pop-up books, and interactive light projection? “The Ice Book,” a spellbinding traveling show by Davy and Kristin McGuire. Which sounds hard to grasp, but watch the video:

The husband-and-wife team says they “always had the dream of creating a theatre performance that opened up like a pop-up book.” They actually wanted to produce a life-sized version; The Ice Book was created as a smaller-scale “demonstration model” to lure funding, but then turned into a sensation all on its own.


images © Davy & Kristin McGuire

In addition to pop-up books and theater, the designers took inspiration from pre-cinematic illusions like zoetropes and magic lantern shows. “We wanted to create an object with a life of its own – a tangible and magical “thing” for an audience to experience,” they write. The back-projected animations play automatically during a performance while one of the artists turns the pages of the giant pop-up book by hand to reveal each new scene. “We were working on automating the pages to turn by themselves, but the human contact with the audience and the performer’s physical interaction with the book adds a kind of magic touch,” Davy tells Co.Design.


Kristin took care of meticulously designing and cutting the pop-up paper scenes; Davy created the animations from a combination of live-action footage (shot with a Canon 5D Mark II) and Adobe AfterEffects. “The engineering of the book needed massive thought,” Davy says. “We decided early on to use back projections, but we needed a way to stop the light spill from the projector bleeding into the room. Kristin ingeniously bought a cardboard wardrobe from the internet and cut a “proscenium” hole out of the lid. Each page of the pop up book is also held up by a system of magnets and the book is bound in a very specific way to allow for the projections to shine through.”


How the live-action portions were filmed and animated.


Testing the back-projection.

The McGuires are touring with The Ice Book now.

[Read more at www.theicebook.com]

[Update: Whoops, it seems The Ice Book site is so popular that it violated its host’s bandwidth rules. We’ll update again if it finds a new home or … calms down.]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.