To answer his own question, Holmes says that the simplest way to achieve this feat is to squint at the stereograph. This will effectively blend the two images and simulate depth. However, due to the relative difficulty and subjectivity of this method, he proposes an alternative. He talks about a device with two separate pieces of glass “that squint for us,” each viewing one of the two images separately.
These pieces of glass would be convex lenses which also magnify the image, useful for any smaller photographs or daguerreotypes. The convexity would also serve to angle the view in such a way that they would maintain a common focal point between two images. Thus, the stereoscope could use stereographs to illuminate a single, three-dimensional image where previously there were only two distinctly flat images. Importantly, there is no physical three- dimensional picture stereoscopy; this phenomenon occurs solely in the mind.
This illusory dichotomy is an effective analogy to cinema and animation. Using the stroboscopic and after- image effects, images projected at around 16 frames per second can yield the perception of motion. In between each image as it appears on screen, a blank frame appears. In this space, the mind can interpolate the intermediate between the former and subsequent frames. However, as with the stereoscopic effect, the image on the blank screen does not actually exist; it is a creation of the mind, the consequence of which is the appearance of continuous motion.
In describing and creating his stereoscope to try and capture reality, Holmes ironically draws attention to what was once a hidden function of cinema. It is apparent to anyone not looking through his apparatus that there are simply two images placed next to one another sitting in front of two convex lenses. Seeing his toy from the outside provides a view of the inner workings of the black box, and forces conscious understanding that the toy is using the natural tendencies of the brain to form what Holmes suggests approximates reality.
However, Hébert says that there is one additional step required for true animation than simply recognizing how the technology of cinema and animation work. He states in his speech that he refuses “to see [animation] simply as creating the illusion of motion.” The black box cannot just be opened, but must in fact be challenged at the fundamental level. When he animates, Hébert says that he is “reviving the invention of cinema.” He uses the medium to question that which is hidden from view in cinema, an art which attempts to replicate reality in some form. In animation, he argues, there should be no pretense of reality.
Hébert mentions the example of scratch animation, performed by physically scratching film and then projecting the resulting frames onto a screen. He says that this concept helped him to better understand what he believes to be the ultimate purpose of animation. Contrary to exposing a chemically-treated surface to light as Holmes did with photographs and daguerreotypes, here the surface itself is manipulated in order to form images in motion.
Hébert sees this as an affront to cinematic principle, informing the audience that what they are seeing is not a series of exposed frames, but rather etchings on a strip of film. This is where the line between the two forms can be drawn. Both stereoscopy and scratch animation exemplify how one can open and then challenge the black box of cinema using Hébert’s core tenets of animation.