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Rotoscoping is the process of drawing animation over live-action film.

Creator/MaxAndDaveFleischer invented the process in [[UsefulNotes/TheSilentAgeOfAnimation 1915]] to animate Koko the Clown of their ''WesternAnimation/OutOfTheInkwell'' series, and later used it to animate Music/CabCalloway's dancing in three WesternAnimation/BettyBoop shorts, but the most famous Fleischer rotoscoping was done in the studio's WesternAnimation/SupermanTheatricalCartoons.

Creator/{{Disney}} Studios had used rotoscoping from ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' (explaining the slightly different art style of said characters) all the way to ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians''.

Rotoscoping has been used lightly (to create realistic movements for otherwise stylized characters) and heavily (nearly tracing an entire actor's movements, form, and facial expressions). The downside of heavy rotoscoping is that the animated actors tend to teeter on the edge of the UncannyValley.

More recently, computer technology has created new life for rotoscoping as a medium, allowing for much greater detail and smoother movement. Fully computer-generated characters are SerkisFolk, much like fully animated characters give it the RogerRabbitEffect.

However, rotoscoping has a bad reputation among the animation community, including men such as Creator/RichardWilliams, [[Creator/DisneysNineOldMen Milt Kahl]], Creator/ShamusCulhane and Creator/JohnKricfalusi, being perceived as a lifeless, poor substitute for character animation. Even Creator/RalphBakshi, a frequent user of it in his feature films, admits that he loathed using it and that it was only used due to his low budgets and inexperienced younger artists. In fact, Max Fleischer himself came to realize the limitations of the very device he created early on, opting for more creative use of character animation instead (although he did make some exceptions).

Compare MotionCapture, which is how computers do it these days.



* The [[http://www.slate.com/id/2131287/ Talk to Chuck]] ads for Charles Schwab, directed by Bob Sabiston, the developer of the Rotoshop software used on ''WesternAnimation/WakingLife'', ''Literature/AScannerDarkly'', etc.
* A series of bumpers for Creator/{{Nickelodeon}} that was produced by Buck.
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8yVjGjSMv8 This immensely disturbing PSA]], which was created for the Safety on the Move's ''Drinking and Driving Wrecks Lives'' campaign. A man's haunting, ghostly face stares ''[[BreakingTheFourthWall right into your soul]]'', and recounts how his "great bloke" Mark killed the parents of two children in a drunk driving accident on Christmas. [[NightmareFuel Good luck trying to sleep after watching this]].

* The anime adaptation of ''Manga/AkuNoHana'' has become notorious for ditching the original manga's character designs in favor of using this process to animate the characters.
* The ending sequence, "Hare Hare Yukai", from ''[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya]]'' has become somewhat memetic for being ''obviously'' painted over live-action.
** Less memetic, more awesome is its obvious use during "Live Alive" to animate Yuki's guitar playing.
* Kuuchuu Buranko shifts to rotoscoping from time to time, specially during close ups on the characters' faces.
* Opening sequence of Fela Pure.
* Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion has its moments, specially in ''End of Evangelion''.
* ''Anime/PantyAndStockingWithGarterbelt'' uses several animation styles, and even rotoscoping very briefly in the episode segment dedicated to Chuck, specifically the scenes from its point of view.
* The opening to the ''Literature/SubeteGaFNiNaru'' anime includes a few dancing scenes done up in this style.

[[folder:Films Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/HeavyMetal'' did this with Taarna, the title character of the last major story.
* Creator/RalphBakshi did extensive rotoscoping; ''WesternAnimation/{{Wizards}}'', ''WesternAnimation/TheLordOfTheRings'', ''WesternAnimation/AmericanPop'', ''WesternAnimation/FireAndIce'', and ''Film/CoolWorld''. Bakshi actually hated using rotoscoping, feeling it to be a lazy form of animation, but had to resort to it due to tight budgets and working with inexperienced animators.
* Creator/DonBluth's ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'' and ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'', as well as almost every other movie he's done. Every human appearing in ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNimh'' and ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'' are rotoscoped, giving them a stark, realistic contrast to the cartoonish mouse characters.
** Don Bluth also often did this with certain objects as well, from the tractor in ''Nimh'' and the Giant Mouse of Minsk in ''American Tail'', to even the ship in ''WesternAnimation/ThePebbleAndThePenguin''!
* ''WesternAnimation/WakingLife'' (digitally, using software called Rotoshop.)
* ''Film/AScannerDarkly'', from the same director and producer as ''Waking Life'', used this to good effect.
* Done in ''WesternAnimation/YellowSubmarine'' for the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segment, using old live-action musical footage to striking effect.
* The song "Sita's Fire" from ''WesternAnimation/SitaSingsTheBlues'', one of the 5 art styles used in the film (though this is only used for one song.)
* Disney's most well-known use of it was the vehicles in ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians''. They built models of the cars and trucks, painted them white with black "outlines" on the edges, shot them in stop-motion in front of a white background, and then photocopied the results directly onto the animation cels. They would continue to use this technique in ''Disney/TheAristocats'' and ''Disney/TheRescuers'', largely using the [[PropRecycling exact same models]].
* ''WesternAnimation/FelixTheCatTheMovie'' uses this to animate the princess.
* The little-known, less-seen, and not-entirely-completed masterpiece ''Happy New Year, Planet Earth'' (never released owing to licensing and contractual issues). A Canadian cross between ''Heavy Metal'' and ''Yellow Submarine'' set to music by the band Klaatu, it is mostly rotoscoped.
* Specifically averted in ''Disney/LiloAndStitch''. One of the special features shows the animation process of the opening hula dance scene, in which the animators watched footage of actual dancers and painstakingly animated the movements by hand, as rotoscoping would not have created an appealing performance.
* An interesting case in ''Disney/TheGreatMouseDetective''. The gears inside Big Ben at the start of the climax were done in CGI, but were then traced onto paper by a computer, xeroxed onto cels and painted in. ''Disney/OliverAndCompany'' took the technique even further, using it for all of the films vehicles as well as the [[UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity New York cityscape]], and required the creation of Disney's first in-house computer animation department.
** Disney revisited the "3D-to-2D" background method a decade later for ''Disney/{{Tarzan}}'' with the Deep Canvas technology, in which the films backgrounds were created in CGI and then digitally painted over by animators to appear hand-drawn. Deep Canvas was later used in ''Disney/AtlantisTheLostEmpire'' and ''Disney/TreasurePlanet'', albeit to a lesser extent.
* ''WesternAnimation/LovingVincent'' is a film about the death of Creator/VincentVanGogh done in the same style as his paintings. Each frame was an oil painting based on live-action footage projected onto the canvas, allowing the filmmakers to make a film in the same method Van Gogh did his artwork.

[[folder:Films Live-Action]]
* The lightsaber effects in the original ''Franchise/StarWars'' trilogy. Rotoscoping is still the word you would use to describe the prequel trilogy's lightsabers, but it's the modern computer-aided version. The sequel trilogy (as shown in some behind the scenes photos of ''Film/TheForceAwakens'') used prop glowing sticks (similar in look to the Force FX lightsaber toys), with some digital enhancements to it.
* Used in ''Film/ReturnToOz'' to make the ruby slippers sparkle.
* Used as a transitional device in ''Film/TheChargeOfTheLightBrigade'' between the animated sequences created by Creator/RichardWilliams and the live action shots. The animated sequences themselves, despite the hyper-detailed designs, used no rotoscoping.
* The seagulls flying over the burning gas station on ''Film/TheBirds'' were actually shot at a Cliffside in Spain. Rotoscoping was used to mask out the sea and cliff, leaving only the birds.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Animation has been used to restore some of ''Series/DoctorWho'''s [[MissingEpisode missing episodes]] for DVD release. The animators sometimes use rotoscoping to remain faithful to the few short bits of footage that survive, with [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wASEpjDsLGo the regeneration scene]] from part four of ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS4E2TheTenthPlanet The Tenth Planet]]'' being a good example.
* In ''Series/TheInvaders'' rotoscoping was used to add the red glow over dying and incinerating aliens.

[[folder:Music Videos]]
* Music/DireStraits, "Money for Nothing". Interestingly, not for the animated portions (an early use of CGI), but to add color effects on the live-action footage of the band performing.
** By extension, Music/WeirdAlYankovic's parody "Money For Nothing/[[Series/TheBeverlyHillbillies Beverly Hillbillies]]"
* Music/{{Aha}}, "Take on Me".
* "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEVfHmjKOrM&ob=av2e Shadrach]]" by the Music/BeastieBoys features a heavily stylised example of Rotoscoping.
* Music/LinkinPark's "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ezSGqbuo0g Breaking the Habit]]" music video has the band performing toward the end, it was rotoscoped and animated with an anime style flair to fit in with the rest of the video's art style.
* Spoon, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dInnbQrYVhQ Everything Hits At Once]]" and Zero 7, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZncATpZre_w Destiny]]", both directed by ''Waking Life'' animators.
* Music/KanyeWest, "Heartless". It's a tribute to ''WesternAnimation/AmericanPop''.
* The video for "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUbqOcMlD7I&feature=related Electric Surfing Go Go]]" by POLYSICS flashes between this and live action.
* Music/{{Kasabian}}, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C0OEVWKZv0 Shoot the Runner]]"
* Music/DreamTheater, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRBP1rpE5y8 Forsaken]]"
* Music/CaravanPalace, "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbQgXeY_zi4 Lone Digger]]"

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The original ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersia1'' and its sequel.
** And before that, it was in ''VideoGame/{{Karateka}}'', developed by the same guy behind [=PoP=].
* ''VideoGame/AnotherWorld'', also known as ''Out of This World''
* ''VideoGame/{{Flashback}}'', from the same developers.
* Smoking Car Productions's ''VideoGame/TheLastExpress'' (by the same developer as ''Prince of Persia'').
* A few Creator/{{SNK}} fighters, most famously ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting 3''.
** SNK is using a similar technique for ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters XII'' and ''XIII''. Instead of live action, the animation is drawn over CG models. Creator/ArcSystemWorks did similarly for ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' (however the methods differ as ''[=BlazBlue=]'' characters are animated using cel-based animation whilst the two HD ''King of Fighters'' games use traditional dot art animation).
* Elena's animations look a little different from the rest of the ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII'' cast, largely because all of her animation was rotoscoped. This was probably done because UsefulNotes/{{capoeira}} may have been too daunting for the artists to hand animate convincingly.
* ''VideoGame/HotelDuskRoom215'' and its sequel, ''VideoGame/LastWindow''. Actors and actresses are brought in, and they are filmed performing various movements. The most essential "frames" of their movements are then drawn over and spliced together to create the grainy, film-noir novel style.
** You can watch the "behind the scenes" [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv6L26DZYEs video here]].
* The ''VideoGame/JustDance'' games.
* The kiss scene between Blair and Angel in ''VideoGame/WingCommander II'' was rotoscoped, with series creator Chris Roberts providing the basis for Blair's body.[[note]]The female providing the base body for Angel is unknown, however, but probably an Origin staffer at the time.[[/note]]
* Rotoscoping animated the characters in ''VideoGame/ProjectFirestart''.
* When the animators of ''Franchise/StarWars: VideoGame/DarkForces'' had difficulty animating Darth Vader, they had C. Andrew Nelson (who had suited up as Vader for commercials, print ads, etc) perform the actions that they wanted the Dark Lord to do. The animators then used rotoscoping to match the already drawn cutscenes.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Creator/WalterLantz used this in at least two of his shorts; the WesternAnimation/OswaldTheLuckyRabbit short "Merry Old Soul" and the oneshot cartoon "Just a Jitterbug".
* French/Canadian co-production ''WesternAnimation/DeltaState'' is the first animated television series to be entirely rotoscoped, taking over 27 months to complete. This gives the show an... ''interesting'' look, to say the least.
* Creator/{{Filmation}} did this to get stock footage for all its animated series: ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983'', ''WesternAnimation/{{Blackstar}}'', and ''[[WesternAnimation/FlashGordon1979 The New Adventures of Flash Gordon]]''.
** Filmation's ''WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries'' used rotoscoping in an interesting way: the footage of the USS Enterprise, used in establishing shots (and the title sequence), was achieved by taking the actual footage used in [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries the original 1960s live action series]], and then painstakingly recreating it in animation, frame-by-frame. They hold up pretty well.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46PXaJxzuDE This video]] pretty clearly uses rotoscoping, although you may not notice it in the face of [[EarWorm Mormon Jeezus]].
* Disney used rotoscoping in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Goofy}}'' cartoon ''"Baggage Buster"'', making him look way more earthbound than his usual loose, lanky self.
* ''WesternAnimation/OutOfTheInkwell'' invented this trope and used it to animate Koko, but it was quickly discarded.
* The classic [[WesternAnimation/SupermanTheatricalCartoons Fleischer Superman]] cartoons used ''very good'' rotoscoping for the main characters, thanks to their lavish budget.
* ''WesternAnimation/GulliversTravels'' (also by Fleischer) used this with the title character.
* Another Fleischer's feature-length cartoon, ''WesternAnimation/MrBugGoesToTown'', does this with ''human'' characters (who, however, appear very ''little'').
* Some WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes shorts used this; a few notable examples are in the climax of "Daffy The Commando" the climax scene of Hitler giving his speech, and in "Hollywood Steps Out" with some of the dancing celebrities.
** The 1990 short "Box Office Bunny" uses it when Bugs, Daffy and Elmer dance a rap tune on a bubblegum-stained floor.
** In 1967, Warner Bros. had merged with Seven Arts which had acquired the 1931-43 black-and-white Looney Tunes shorts from absorbing Guild Films, who in turn acquired them from Sunset Films (believed to be a W-B dummy distribution firm). At that time, W-B had 75 of those cartoons shipped to Korea to be rotoscoped redrawn and painted in color. The tight deadlines and low budgets (all done on 6-field cels) rendered these color versions sloppy and unattractive.
*** King Features had the same thing done in 1986 with the Fleischer black-&-white {{Popeye}} cartoons.
* The animation of ''WesternAnimation/JosieAndThePussycats'' performing in the opening of their 1970 Hanna-Barbera cartoon was rotoscoped.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' uses this on occasion, usually for complex dance sequences (such as the Jitterbug song "Jungle Love" and Peter performing [[{{Music/Madonna}} "Ray of Light"]] in "New Kidney In Town")
** Averted in the ''Star Wars'' [[WesternAnimation/FamilyGuyPresentsLaughItUpFuzzball spoofs]]. Many of the shots from the films were authentically recreated and the quality caused many fans to believe it was rotoscoped.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' used it for a syndication promo that [[RogerRabbitEffect inserted them into classic movie scenes]]. It's pretty obvious in the part parodying ''Film/ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid''.
* The notorious short cartoon ''The Magic of Oz'' has rotoscoping in ''one'' shot. Of Dorothy bending down. Given how poor the animation is, it's believable that they couldn't animate a character bending down, but it's quickly clear that they didn't know how to rotoscope properly either.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MGMOneshotCartoons'' short "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" the animation of Goldilocks is done with this technique.
* Light rotoscoping was used on the ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' specials ''WesternAnimation/ShesAGoodSkateCharlieBrown'' and ''WesternAnimation/ItsFlashbeagleCharlieBrown'' for the skating scenes in the former and dancing in the latter. The footage wasn't "traced" as with typical rotoscoping, but reinterpreted for the characters' exaggerated proportions. (Fun fact: Charles Schultz's daughter Jill performed reference for both specials.)
* 1974 short ''WesternAnimation/{{Fuji}}'' mixes this with MediumBlending, as the cartoon shows the live action film of the people on a train, shows the Rotoscoping animation of the people on the train, and later shows one superimposed on the other so the both are visible.