⁃Research into the history, context, and contemporary manifestations of the area of knowledge;
Rotoscoping is one of the oldest forms of traditional animation, and quickly became one of the most beneficial. It simplified steps in the animation line by working off live footage to create hyper realism in the drawings. Over the course of my research and development for my practice in rotoscoping, I looked at several hand drawn animation projects, including many films by Disney like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Traditional animation was used in unison with digital animation within Disney up until 2008, and is still a vital part in the planning and storyboarding process.
The process and techniques behind making these films were incredibly detailed and intricate. Over 50 people can be working on just one character in a film, teams in the hundreds for one movie. Rotoscoping was used by many Disney films, to create the seamless movement of animation, and encourage deviation from the original footage, while simultaneously remaining anchored to the real world.
Rotoscoping found purpose again in a contemporary manifestation, as many artists re-purported the animation technique in mordern works. It almost had a nostalgic effect, that I found myself drawn to. The appealing blending of old and new, finds the practice rejuvenated and engaging once more. I enjoy its simplicity, but its hidden complexity. Handrawing 25 frames for one measly second certainly makes you appreciate its fineness.
It provides a clear intention, when one uses rotoscoping, to enhance or highlight a specific purpose that live footage cannot on its own. Whether it’s enchancing movement, or to honour a graphic novel art design, as this film did. Alois Nebel was entirely hand drawn rotoscoping, to give the effect of a graphic, noir-style novel that has come to life. Rotoscoping was utilised so that a crucial element of the story would not be lost. Similarly achieved in Loving Vincent, that I mentioned here. Rotoscoping achieved something outside of both the parameters of live footage and animation, that makes it almost dreamlike when viewing it.
⁃ Structure of your daily practice and rationale;
My daily practice involved working on my rotoscopes everyday, practicing drawing techniques, consistency and detail. At the end of each week, I complete the rotoscope and publish it before a reflection post.
I would choose on a piece of footage, ranging from 2 seconds to 9 seconds long. I started off with found footage to practice with, and eventually shot my own. I opened the footage in Adobe Premiere, edited slightly to increase the contrast and colours to make the edges of the shapes more succinct and apparent. The footage was exported as individual JPEGs, the number of which depending on how long the footage I chose was. I generally strived for no more than 200, keeping in mind of how many frames I would have to draw eventually. once they were exported, I put 10 frames per page in Microsoft Word, to fit as many as possible and reduce printing and ink expenditure. I printed each page, and traced every frame over a lightbox, before taking pictures of each page, or scanning, when complete.
After cropping each frame to make them individual again, I reopened them all into Adobe Premiere. Here, I set each time frame to 1 milisecond, ensured the frame were all the same size and straightened, and cropped accordingly. Then, I cleared up the images, sharpening or adding contrast, reducing colour until all were uniform.
⁃ Description and critical refection on how this daily practice developed over time.
Week 1/Week 2
From the rotoscope of walking to dancing, I could see growth in my practice and learning. I started with basically no experience or knowledge with animation or rotoscoping, and it clearly showed in my first rotoscope. I found ways to improve by extending the footage, making the image look less ‘amateur’. I watched an abundance of youtube videos on how to make a rotoscope in order to better understand what I was trying to accomplish.
Week 3/Week 4
I found that the best way for how i was learning, was looking at the final result, and comparing it to what I thought it would be in my head. It, of course, never was what I thought it would look like in the end. But that was the gap in knowledge between looking at individual frames, and wondering how they work together. From Week 3 to Week 4, I taught myself how to improve on what I was left with. Each rotoscope presented me with new problems built upon my experience from the previous ones. I knew to make my rotoscopes look more legitimate I needed to clear up the images, I knew to reduce the Jitters I needed to slow it down to make it less noticeable. When I tried to new method of rotoscoping, I learnt that I had to consider the difference between how much time I should spend on msking a single frame. Something I never would have realised that takes so much time to add detail to, that actually held no gravitas in the end result.
Week 4/Week 5
From viewing extensive rotoscoping footage from The Little Mermaid to Loving Vincent to simple shorts on videos, I learnt what actually appealed to me as a viewer not just a producer. The importance of researching and seeing what is already out there to better understand your own process and end goals. By trying and experimenting with varying techniques, eventually I found one that sparked in my mind. The shading technique, super-imposed onto live footage met this perfect balance together in my opinion. Though I failed to get the result I wanted, the next lesson I encountered was perseverance. A process of Trial and Error in finding exactly what footage and what rotoscopes will work together was paramount.
⁃Speculation on how this will contribute to your future learning.
I would really like to continue making rotoscopes for the MEDA final project. While I found the practice project did improve my skill and understand of rotoscoping, the process and journey of learning and creating was what was the most beneficial. Each rotoscope I made or improved upon, I found news ways to create (tracing, shading, coloring, the combination of one or more), uncovered what didn’t work(printing, photographing vs scanning) I would never had known about the problems or issues I encountered without ever picking up a pen and started to trace each frame.
Ultimately, I learnt the best way to learn is just to do. Trying, experimenting, and understanding a process. I could read and watch all I wanted about rotoscoping, but ultimately, the only way I could know how I would make rotoscopes was by actually doing it. Seeing what I was capable of creating, and then knowing what worked and what didn’t work for me in my own little bubble; rather than focusing on how others rotoscoped.