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Rotoscoping was invented by Max Fleischer in the year 1915 with the help of his brother Dave Fleischer. The first character created using the rotoscoping technique was KOKO the clown in 1917, with live reference being taken from his brother who dressed in clown suit. After his success in rotoscoping they started a company called Fleischer Studios.
Initially, Fleischer started by producing his films for The Bray Studios and later in 1921, Max and his brother Dave established Fleischer Studios to produce animated cartoons and short films; Max was the producer in the beginning. Koko and Fitz are their outcome series from Fleischer Studios. Later it was Fleischer studios who invented even the bouncing ball technique. They used this technique for their animated series “KoKo Song Car-Tune”, in which a ball bounces from word to word to sing along the series. Fleisher made a 40-minute educational feature film for explaining Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in the year 1923 using live action animation and special effects.
Fleischer Film Studioslocated at 1600 Broadway overlooking Times Square in New York City.
In his several cartoons, he had soundtracks featuring live or rotoscoped image of the leading jazz performers of the time, most notably Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Don Redman. After that, they used rotoscope in many of their later cartoons like Betty Boop in 1930 – they did Cab Calloway dance using this technique. In Gulliver travel, 1939, they did Gulliver’s character using rotoscope technique, and in Superman cartoon, they animated Superman and the other characters in realistic movement.
Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930 in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes, the sixth episode of Fleischer’s Talkartoon series. The character was modelled after a combination of the famous singer, Helen Kane and popular actress, Clara Bow of 1920. Clara became trademark of Betty because of her strong Brooklyn accent. Betty Boop became the star of the Talkartoon by 1932, and was given her own series in that same year beginning with Stopping the Show. Betty appeared in the first colour classic cartoon in Poor Cinderella ‘Betty only theatrical colour appearance’ in 1934.
Betty Boops was created by Fleischer studios and distributed by paramount star.
Betty Boop as sex symbol
Betty Boop is the first and most famous sex symbol on the animated screen. Betty’s popularity was largely from adult audiences. It contains many sexual elements in the series like Talkartoon, Minnie and Moocher, Cab Calloway and his orchestra. The Talkartoon was replaced by the Betty boop series, which continued for 7 years. Betty Boop is the one of the important characters in the history of animation for being the first cartoon character to represent fully as sexualized woman.
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Betty boop wore short dresses showing cleavage, high heels and greater belt, with a certain girlish quality. In Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle, she dressed hula topless, wearing only a lei and a grass skirt, which she repeated in her cameo appearance in the first Popeye cartoon, Popeye the Sailor (1933). Her “Bamboo Isle” performance was also included in the short Betty Boop’s Rise to Fame, featuring a staged interview with Max Fleischer.
Walt Disney used the rotoscoping technique for their movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarf in 1937. After success of Snow White, the Disney used rotoscoping technique in many of their movies like Cinderella in 1950, in which they used the human character to animate Cinderella. Later on, they used this technique mainly to study human motion, animal motion, etc.
The digital rotoscoping technique was invented by smoking car productions in the year 1994 for the creation of ‘The last express’ adventures video game.
The interpolated rotoscoping was invented by Bob Sabiston in the mid 1990’s. He was an animator and a computer scientist at MIT media lab. Later director Richard Linklater used that technique to produce his feature film, Walking Life in 2001 and a scanner Darkley in 2006. He is the first director to use digital rotoscoping to create an entire feature film.
When they first introduce the rotoscoping technique, a lot of animators opposed because they believed that the process stiffened the animation. A few believed that it could change the proportion of the animation, by giving a live action for the actors in it, to make the characters realistic and exaggerated.
- Fleischer, Richard (2005): Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0-8131-2355-0
- Maltin, Leonard (1987): Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. Penguin Books.
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