Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830 – May 8, 1904) was a British-born photographer, known primarily for his early use of multiple cameras to capture motion. Muybridge was born Edward James Muggeridge at Kingston-on-Thames, England.
In 1872, businessman and former California governor Leland Stanford hired Muybridge to settle a question (not a bet, as is popularly believed): Stanford claimed, contrary to popular belief, that there was a point in a horse's gallop when all four hooves were off the ground. By 1878, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion using a series of fifty cameras. Each of the cameras were arranged along a track parallel to the horse's, and each of the camera shutters were controlled by trip wires which were triggered by the horse's hooves. This series of photos, taken at what is now Stanford University, is called The Horse in Motion, and shows that, indeed, the hooves all leave the ground.
After this, he conducted research in order to improve the chemistry of his development methods to better capture motion in his photography. Muybridge noticed how much public attention those pictures drew and invented the Zoopraxiscope, a machine similar to the Zoetrope, but that projected the images so the public could see realistic motion. The system was in a way, a precursor to the development of the motion picture.
Muybridge used this technique many times to photograph people and animals to study their movement. The people were often photographed in little or no clothing in a variety of undertakings. From boxing,to walking down stairs, and even small children walking to their mother were sufficiently interesting to Muybridge to be the subject of his photographs. His work stands near the beginning of the science of biomechanics and the mechanics of athletics. In the summer of 2004, during the Summer Olympic games which were held in Greece, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts housed an exhibition highlighting ancient Greece and included 2 of Muybridge's photograph plates ganging next to more modern representations of athletes as part of the exhibit.
In the 1990s, U2 made a video to their song Lemon into a tribute to Muybridge's techniques. In 2004, the electronic music group 'The Crystal Method' made a music video, which garnered much praise, to their song Born Too Slow which down to the nearly ever-present background grid, was entirely based on Muybridge's work.
Similar setups of carefully timed multiple cameras are used in modern special effects photography with the opposite goal: capturing changing camera angles with little or no movement of the subject.