Rotoscoping is cheating!… said no one ever

Recently, i did a short project using rotoscoping techniques but what is rotoscoping? Well, Rotoscoping is the technique that has been around for quiet some time and is still relevant in today’s industry. It involves a simple way of using reference to create an animation. The animator of a project can use the reference footage and paint over each frame with the character’s they are using. Originally the footage was projected onto the celluloid paper and the actors traced what they saw, however, now it is much more simple as it is all on computer.

This technique backdates to the early cartoons such as Betty Boop, snow white and other various Disney films. It is also used as a type of Visual FX’s process. They used rotoscoping in a range of live action films such as Star wars (the original ones for the light sabers),Space balls (for essentially the same thing) and Who framed roger rabit (for toon town and the iconic toons)

How it is used today?

Today, it is all done on computer by digitally painting over each frame.
The principal is still the same today and it is used to create visually appealing and very arty films. The great thing about this technique is each time it has been used, it still feels original and fresh.There isn’t much to say about the technical side to it, as it is really just like tracing. Here are some examples of productions it has been used in.

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Juno- Opening sequence

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Adieu-Hit. Record
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Going on 16- Daniel Johns

Adieu and going on 16 were really creative in the process of making the final product. Both of these films handed out short parts of the footage to a number of animators to get a different style every so often.

I tried out the rotoscoping technique and i made a intro for a hypothetical show about myself. I started by filming some footage with Toby in Southbank and i have had this footage for awhile with no use for it. When i decided i wanted to do some Rotoscoping, i dug it out of the folder it was hiding in. I took the footage into photoshop to begin the digital painting side to it (which was painful) and once that was done, i animated it. I took it into After effects to animate it using the expanding tool to hide everything and then expand it out over time.

Here is a look at the final project.

My Rotoscope test


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