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Yang, Panpan (2016) 'Rotoscoping Body: Secret Dancers, Animated Realism and Temporal Critique.' Spectator, 36 (1). pp. 33-42.

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Abstract

In the Fleischer original rotoscoping process, the animator was drawing on a transparent easel, onto which the movie projector was throwing an image of a live-action film frame. This technology improved the smoothness of character movement, most notably the Cab Calloway dance routines in Betty Boop cartoons and Marge Champion dance sequences in the 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The rotoscoping technique not only opens up a window for us to reimagine the Disney-Fleischer relationship in the 1930s, but also creates possibilities of “reanimating” film theory, especially crucial issues regarding realism, motion, and temporality. The purpose of rotoscoping is not to make the cartoon character be realistic, but to make it feel realistic. It is the stark contrast between the cartoony, unrealistic character design and the life-like, realistic body movement that successfully arouses audiences’ amazement. Examining Eisenstein’s notion of “plasmaticness” and Rey Chow’s notion of “automatization,” I argue that the two notions run in opposite directions, but both are simultaneously and paradoxically embedded in the rotoscoping body in animation. Marge Champion’s dance footage for Disney’s 1937 Snow White was reused in the 1973 animated feature Robin Hood. In terms of temporality, I read the recycled rotoscoping sequence as a critique of homogeneous time in Bergson’s sense. When we are watching Maid Marian’s dance sequence in Robin Hood, Snow White’s dance sequence seems to be in front of us at the same time. It gives us an uncanny sense of multiple cohabiting worlds and foregrounds a clear sense of temporal discrepancy that cannot entirely dissolve into homogeneous time.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
ISSN: 10510230
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2022 11:00
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/38228

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