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What is Rotoscoping and how can I use it to take over the world?? April 11, 2010

Posted by regan222 in Film and Television.
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You can’t really use rotoscoping to take over the world.  It is an animation technique that uses real live footage to create cartoons.  One takes a segment of film or live video and traces over it to create a series of images that can be played in succession to create an animation.  The technique creates a cartoon with a very realistic look.  The motion looks very much like the live footage.  The drawback is that much detail is lost in the process.  It is also very labor intensive.  What brought this topic up was my discovery of a copy of Ralph Bakshi’s “Wizards” at the bottom of my DVD rack.  Bakshi was a producer of cartoons for grownups in the 70’s and 80’s.  He wrote, animated, produced, directed animated films such as American Pop, Fire and Ice, Coonskin, Heavy Traffic, and the infamous Fritz the Cat.  While most definitely not for children, many of these early works were very entertaining.  Bakshi’s magnum opus was his interpretation of the first book and a half of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”.  He did a creditable job for such a huge project but, because the box office was not kind to his efforts, he never completed the second half of the epic.  Bakshi made much use of rotoscoping in his features because it greatly reduced the amount of work involved in animating a full length feature film by hand.  His reputation as a rebel was established by creating animated features that addressed subject matter considered too mature for cartoons.  They frequently included nudity, profanity, extreme violence, and often broached subjects like racism and discrimination.

One of my favorite Bakshi films is a fantasy feature called Wizards.  The story, set in the post apocalyptic world of the future, chronicles the epic battle for supremacy fought between the powers of technology and magic.  Man has been wiped out by a world-wide atomic exchange.  Fairies, dwarves, and other fantasy creatures have reclaimed the Earth.  In the good lands, free of atomic contamination, free creatures thrive and a utopian society of peace in tune with nature.  In the land of Scorch, contaminated as it is with the nuclear fallout of atomic Armageddon, the creatures have mutated into horrible caricatures of men.  Each new birth is a new tragedy.  The evil wizard Black Wolf decides to conquer the good lands and lead his people to prosperity.  In order to accomplish this he digs up and studies bits and pieces of pre-holocaust technology, finally succeeding in building a conquering army based on the World War II Nazi War Machine.

Avatar, the good wizard, and twin brother of Black Wolf, leads the forces of love and peace.  He owes much to the underground comic work of R. Crumb.  At one time he strode the planet like a messiah, curing radiation sickness in man and animal.  Now his main concern other than whether or not he packed his scotch, is keeping tabs on the lushly drawn and scantily clad Princess Elainor, daughter of the president of the free lands and queen of fairies (although she is not yet a full-fledged fairy).  I will not spoil the plot for you but I can tell you that the hero gets the girl in the end.  Here is a trailer embedded from youtube.com

This film, while entertaining in the extreme, was doomed from the get-go.  It opened in 1977 on the same weekend that another fantasy epic arrived on the scene.  Had Wizards shown up three months earlier or later it would have been a commercial success by any standard.  However, since it had to compete with the premier of the original Star Wars movie, it was relegated to obscurity.  Now available on DVD it enjoys a good deal of success as a cult classic.

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Comments»

1. wildstorm - April 12, 2010

That is just want I want…to take over the world! When can we get started?


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