Rotoscoping in Stop-Motion Animation

When you think of rotoscoping, think of the last cover band that you heard. Maybe it was really bad, or maybe it was amazing.  Either way, it probably sounded something like the original and was fun to listen to. When rotoscoping, a stop motion animator uses pre-existing film footage from an old T.V. show or movie to “cover” a video scene.

The first step of rotoscoping is to find a film clip. The sky is the limit here. The clip could be as silly as an old Wendy’s commercial, as funny as a Seinfeld episode, or as dramatic as a show like Days of Our Lives. This film clip is what you will use as a model for your stop motion animation movie.

Once you have acquired the clip, you simply import it into whatever stop motion animation software you’re using. (Some software programs to use are Dragon Stop Motion and Stop Motion Pro for Windows or iStopMotion for Mac.) When the clip is imported, the animation window changes to show two pictures. One window shows the live action feed that your camera is pointing at. The second window shows a frame-by-frame picture of the film clip that you are recreating.

When you begin rotoscoping, you will see the first frame of the scene you are “covering”. You will re-build that image using your own materials. To re-make the scene, you can use materials such as LEGOS, clay, felt or Play-Doh. What you use isn’t as important as the fact that you want to make your movie set look as close to the original as you can. Each time you take a picture, the animation software that you are using will automatically advance the original movie clip one frame. Then, you move your scene ever so slightly to again match the original.

The finished product uses audio from the original scene along with your animation to “cover” the original. Here is an example of the 1970 Tootsie Pop commercial rotoscoped with Play-Doh in one of our Tech Camps.

Rotoscoping old commercials and short videos are a lot of fun. Most stop motion software programs have a rotoscoping feature. Classes are available to learn stop motion animation and rotoscoping too from Classroom Antics Tech Camps and probably other camps in your area.

Have you tried rotoscoping, or have you seen a rotoscoped movie that you enjoyed? Tell us about them in the comments below.