Rotoshopping Is Creepy And Cool

There’s a really specific look to rotoshopped movies that sits right in that uncanny valley for animation. They’re just slightly too real, and so they look really creepy. The two films best known for this, A Scanner Darkly (HU DVD 2416) and Waking Life (HU DVD 364), are just unbearably creepy.

So what is rotoshopping? It’s a specific kind of rotoscoping where an artist draws keyframes and a program decides what makes sense between them. Rotoshopping actually refers to a proprietary software used by the company Flat Black Films. It reminds me in a lot of ways of the creepiness of motion capture, probably for the same reasons. It’s too human in a thing we don’t recognize as human.

I kind of wonder if this is because a computer is making part of the decisions in rotoshopped movies. Maybe there’s more of the artist’s hand in a rotoscoped film than we really think, and that’s the difference between the styles of animation.

There is, I will mention, a little confusion about what rotoscoping itself actually is. Lots of animation uses live references. That’s not necessarily rotoscoping. That’s more like using a model for painting. Rotoscoping is when you actually trace the film frame by frame.

Oh, it’s too hard to explain. I guess to really get it, you’ll have to watch this incredible example:

You’re welcome.

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