Creating animation with a hoop or poi sounds like it would work in theory, but doesn’t directly translate to objects in motion. With a traditional animation, each frame is displayed in the exact same spot as the previous frame. If you were to display a series of animated frames on a flow prop you would just see each of them one after another in a row as you move your hoop or poi around you.
If you’ve ever used a flipbook before, you can visualize this the same way. Each new image flips down right on top of the previous image. This creates the illusion of animation. When thinking of how this would look on a hoop, it would be like if you were tearing each page out of the flipbook and laying them side by side in whatever path the hoop takes. While it might look cool, it’s not going to look like traditional frame-by-frame animation.
Flow props with LEDs use a special type of animation to play and repeat single images. Let’s call this row-by-row animation (as opposed to traditional frame-by-frame). Images are 2d (they have a width and a height). But an LED hula hoop or poi are only 1d (a single row of LEDs). Row-by-row animation works by showing one row of the image at a time on the LED strip. If the hoop is still it just looks like a blinky mess! But once that hoop starts moving you can see all the rows next to each other, creating an image. So in a way this is the opposite of traditional frame-by-frame animation! Traditional animation needs all the images to be in one place. Hoop animation needs each row to be in a slightly different place.
Since the prop has to be moved for the picture to display, the illusion of animation would not appear. If the prop was able to display the entire image without the need to be moved, then it could show animation, but that would basically be what a monitor or TV does.
Adding motion to make the image display is they key part of why animation wouldn’t work on an LED flow prop. It’s maybe possible a semblance of animation could come through, but in a round medium like the hoop in particular, it would be very difficult to both achieve and convey animation. The idea of it sounds really neat, and we too wish it were possible!