HOW WE DO IT: Rotoscope

The Business Challenge:

With staff around the world over, how do we combine our talented workforce into a comprehensive art style while allowing everyone a sense of individuality and flare? 

Case Study:

Given schedules and location, it wasn’t a likely solution to travel to the ends of the earth locking down a set portrait and posing look, so we came up with a solution: Rotoscope! The advantages are plenty! Everyone outside our main creative perimeter of Austin, TX was invited to shoot video on the handiest thing around:  mobile phones. 

From there it was just, and I say just, as though it were so simple, but nevertheless, it was just a matter of creating a style frame, to match everyone to a consistent art style, and then capture and animate their submitted performance. You’ll be rewarded by converting your video into a PNG image sequence. Once your source footage is broken down into images, you’ll parse the folder diving even numbered images from odd numbered images. Pick one set of numbered images (evens or odds) for your rotoscope project.

The results speak volumes towards our shared ingenuity and creativity, providing an excellent showcase of hidden talents and mirth, and bringing us all a bit closer in feeling, erasing the borders between our global working community.

Here’s how we did it — and how you can do it too:

  1. Getting Started

    It all starts with good reference material. Ensure that the camera is locked off, though moving cameras can provide a fun extra element, but for your first rotoscope, a non-moving frame is preferable.

  2. What to Capture

    Keep the content fun and engaging. Here you’re invited to show-off a bit, though condense the action to 3-5 seconds, bearing in mind that every second = 12 frames you’ll need to draw, line by line, element by element.

  3. How to Capture It

    There are as many ways to approach this as there are ideas in the world, so simple does it. Using the style frame as your guide, pick 1 feature you’ll follow through the entirety of the sequence. Say, for example, you really want to nail the eyes or hair, just work in simple strokes the whole way through, then come back to the beginning and pick a new feature. The road to success looks like retreading, but over your roto-session, you’ll see an animation come to life.

That’s to get you started, but know there are no limitations here, just a test of patience, but we’re sure after your first one, you’ll be primed for more. In terms of software, sky’s the limit, though we’re partial to a few open source platforms, such as Krita or Blender, but Photoshop, Animate, Rough Animator and Procreate are viable options as well.

And that’s how we do it.