Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Rotoscopic Glee! The Saga Begins...

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One thing I've learned over the years is that I'm a glutton for punishment. This has manifested itself in a variety of ways throughout my life. Every academic project I've been assigned has been completed mere moments before the deadline after an entire sleepless night of coffee consumption, panic attacks and shameful weeping. Every girlfriend I've had seemed to share the same adorably infuriating set of psychoses and repressed hatred toward all men (with me as their singular representative). Every five days of healthy eating and consistent exercise is capped by a weekend of sloth and nacho consumption, which succesfully undoes any potential for self-improvement.
The list could go on, but I'd wind up writing a freakin' novel. The most recent example would be the sequence I am currently working on for my film. It is a POV shot in which the audience, through the eyes of the Hunter, chases the Duck around the cabin into a previously unseen trophy room. The sequence is briefly broken up by a side-view shot of the Duck avoiding buckshot as it flies past his head. The whole sequence lasts about fifteen seconds and is represented by these three storyboard panels:

To view the animatic and see the proposed scene in context, hop to this entry.

Piece of piss, right? Well, sure, there are many ways it could be, but that wouldn't sate the beast of self-loathing I apparently have working my controls.
To be fancy-dancy - and compensate for some inadequacy in my life I've yet to address consciously (I'm guessing 'Napoleon complex' as I don't even scrape 6') - I've decided to create a tracking shot using my 3D CGI set I constructed way back in March, print it out frame by frame and rotoscope the scene.
Rotoscoping is that somewhat 'cheaty' animation method where you essentially trace over action that has been created independently. Examples of this include Ralph Bakshi's hit-and-miss stab at 'Lord Of The Rings', the 'Lucy In The Sky...' sequence from 'Yellow Submarine', that Ah-Ha video and - fuck it - my one-minute film from the beginning of the year. These all relied on actual live-action footage, while the scene I'm currently slogging through uses this piece of simplistic computer animation as a reference:

To be a show-off, I've added a basic wallpaper texture which makes the rotoscoping process about a billion times longer, not to mention the wood panelling that appears after we round the corner. Because this line quality is way too smooth, by tracing over each frame in the shaky, thick-line style the rest of the film is in it should hopefully look impressive without sticking out too much. Here's how it looks at the moment with the first part done:

Now, this obviously needs colouring and clean-up, but I do like the way it's turned out. There's a nice 'boil' effect (where the lines sort of wiggle) which I've always enjoyed as a presence in the work of other animators such as Bill Plympton and Joanna Quinn. It keeps the rough look of the film without being so obtrusive as to wreck the shot, a fine line I've been treading since production on the film began. Without wishing to jinx myself, I would say that, as time passes, it's getting far easier to keep my balance in this respect. So coming up next, the full-colour version! Ah, this modern world of ours...

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