I have been curious about Rotoscoping, a labour intensive but often underestimated process. This technique was created by Max Fleischer in 1912 using a machine that served as a projector that screened a film with real actors doing what the artist needed for the animation, they were traced frame by frame over celluloid resulting in a more fluid and realistic result. This would be later used in Disney’s Snow White, Superman and the music video “Take on Me” by A-HA (The single wasn’t a success until it was released along with the video).

For this post, I looked at Jason Archer’s work, as an example of what rotoscoping can achieve in a music video. Archer is a director and animator best known for his work in “A Scanner Darkly” an adaptation of Philip K Dick book, featuring a star-studded cast, namely Keanu Reeves,  Robert Downey, Jr., and Woody Harrelson. A ‘Grand Theft Auto’ aesthetic and a frustrated Director creates an interesting confluence. The animators use Rotoshop, a vector software that interpolates the in-betweens automatically.

Archer being Texan has a pronounced hispanic influence and has been criticized for the political opinions he expresses through his work and murals. This drew the attention of Molotov, a Mexican band, who hired him to create the music video for “Frijolero” a song that is, ironically, against the United States. This video earned him a Grammy and an MTV Video of the Year Award and was a great success in Latin America.

The animation is objectively really crude and simple. He implements a blocky colour scheme and is more about the content of the lyrics and expressing an idea than about having very detailed movement. Everything is bold, sexualised and strongly suggests sympathy towards immigrants crossing the border.
Although personally, I don’t really like the style I enjoy the symbolism behind the simplistic design. The colours are suggestive of political parties, the stencil look mirrors the Mexican police with its bottle green branding (In the past they would wear green and, then they would GO away or the cream palette that would resemble the uniform they use nowadays), often called Gringos.
I will attempt Rotoscoping in the future because it will help me understand camera angles and I find it interesting as a Graphic Designer.
La Franco, Robert (2006). "Trouble in Toontown". Wired magazine. Archived from, on October 27, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2007.

"A Scanner Darkly Production Notes". MovieGrande. 2006. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2013.  

Torres, Natalia (2013). "Molotov, la bomba loca" [Molotov, the crazy bomb].  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.