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Rotoscoping is an animation technique, its name comes from to the projection equipment they used called rotoscope. Animators had to project a live-action movie onto a glass and the animator would draw over the image, tracing it. Nowadays, animators do not use this device since the computer took over, but the technique and name remains the same. In this technique, the animator drops the video onto his favorite video editor and goes frame by frame tracing the images.

At this time, rotoscoping is often used for VFX (visual effects) in live action movies. The animator will race the object and it will create a silhouette, and this silhouette (called matte) can be then removed and put into another background. Although this can be done with blue or green screen techniques, which are usually faster and easier, they are not always as reliable as rotoscoping. This two can be and are used at the same time, while using a blue or green screen does a “rough” job, you clean it with rotoscoping; that way, animators will have a clean silhouette to work with.
Rotoscoping can also be used as part of the video, it can be seen. For example, an animator has a short clip of a ballerina or an athlete; the animator can draw over the person: draw the silhouette, draw the skeleton, draw accessories on top of it and leave both the live-action video and the drawings that were made on top of the video while tracing the movements. The drawings could be sketches or super realistic ones, it would depend on the message they want to send or the style they most like.
Another thing you can do is rotoscope a video and just show the rotoscoping without the live-action video. Many people use this to “recreate” a moment and they can’t use the video for copywriting reasons; other people just do it for aesthetic reasons.

There are many ways to implement this technique and it has many uses, from animated drawings to visual effects.

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