Like everything else in the world, rotoscopy has its own timeline of evolution.

The Evolution of Rotoscopy and Animation

This was the age when motion pictures were a rage! The early animators started making films that were nothing but a series of moving drawings. That is how Animation was born. It was around this time in 1915, that rotoscopy was first heard about. Max Fleischer made a series of movies named Out of the Inkwell, the earliest example to the concept. He would make his brother perform the movements of Koko The Clown and film it. And then would the trace over it frame by frame to produce the realistic effect in the movie. This was the new standard for all animated movies making that Max a pioneer in animation set. And it was just the beginning. Many early cartoons where later produced using this technique. One of the most remembered is Betty Boop in the 1930’s whose various movements including the hula hoop was captured using rotoscopy.

Till time passed into the mid-20th century, it was still only used to bring more complex movements of humans or animals to the screen. However, in the 20th century that production houses started using it in numerous large scale productions. Walt Disney used the technique in the making of larger movies like the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Beatles used it make the video of the track the Yellow Submarine. And many animated movies followed suit. The reason rotoscopy wasn’t used extensively is that it was very difficult to do. Every movement had to be traced over frame by frame and a steady hand was needed to accomplish this.  Without a perfect trace, the image would come out wobbly. This is used today to a more stylish effect at times but it wasn’t taken into consideration a lot back then.

Then the modern times arrived and the computers began to take over. The rotoscope was becoming a thing of the past but the technique stood its ground. The first two in the most notable of list were the movies Walking Life and Scanner Darkly. There have been many movies that have followed and used this technique to create captivating results. But what can you do different with rotoscopy animation?

Inspiration: What Can You Do With It Today

The first of showings was with the Beatles and their track Yellow Submarine. It was a wave. They changed the very way people viewed music not only for their generation but also the generations to come. But that wasn’t all. They also contributed what was among the very first music video made using rotoscopy. Here is a list on what has been tried since then!

Tron: The legacy

It is a movie but it is one of a kind. Rather is among the few first ever made of the kind!

Lord of the Rings cartoon 1978                   

It is a cartoon like so many more but stands out owing to the exceptional work done with the rotoscopy. Take a peek. The characters movements are so human that it simply cannot be missed.


But why limit yourself to movies or cartoons, when you can do so much more! Here are a few unforgettable music videos that adopted the same technique.

Take Me Home – Never Gonna Stop

This music video was made for the band Take Me Home. Whether you have heard the song or not, the video is a must watch for any admirer of rotoscopy and animation.

You Got Me Up – Jamie Lidell

Another music video we admit, but the cat and its attempts to escape are as realistic to look at as possible!


And their is still more that you can do.

Guns In The Film Noir

How do you show violence without showing too much violence? Rotoscopy!


Detective Story

Why limit yourself to a short movie? Why not try out a few short animations? That is exactly what was done. Another short animation from Film Noir.

Video Game Avatar

Why stop with just a short animation? Go a step further and make a game!


Any other ideas on how you can use to rotoscopy animation to create something different? Do tell us!

Toolbox Studio