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’12 Minutes of Love’ by Em Cooper is a piece of work i’ve always been consumed by. It’s a 1 minute video made from hundreds of oil paintings which come together to show two dancers and their journey through love, lust, then rejection. If you were to watch it from a distance, you would probably think the footage is live action as between frames, there isn’t much difference between colour, shape or shadow. As you look closer, however, you can begin to see the brush marks and movement of paint, especially in the fast transitions that break up each shot 20 odd times throughout the video. At first, the transitions are slow and easy to understand how they’ve been achieved but as the video rolls on, and the music speeds up, the transitions become faster too, making it harder to process how Cooper has created such a seamless changeover between shots.

I don’t know how Em Cooper made ’12 minutes of Love’, maybe I don’t really want to either, as seen in my previous blog, there’s a ‘magic’ in motion and sometimes it’s better not knowing how the trick was produced so the magic can remain.

I do however have a better understanding of how (some) painted animations are achieved, after watching Bendik Finborud’s behind the scenes video. Finborud uses the technique of rotoscoping, where you quite literally trace over each and every frame of real footage you have, so that when put together, it combines realistic footage with hand-crafted, individual paintings. In this video, you see him turning his laptop upside down, attaching tracing paper to the screen, and painting over each frame within a short video. In this sense, I realise this method of animation is not as impressive as say stop motion animation, where elements such as character making, rigging, lighting, and time keeping to name a few, all must come together at the same time while animating. Whereas here, the shots have been established, the editing has been done and all that needs focusing on is simply tracing each frame using paint. In his other videos, Finborud uses pastels instead of paint, and doesn’t fully copy the whole image, this is more impressive, in my view, as creative flare takes place.

Rotoscoping is nonetheless an extremely fascinating method of animation. It requires a lot of patience and creativity in editing, prior to the frame breakdown, and frame output in terms of what materials you use and how you then attach the shots together. Rotoscoping is a good starting point and will allow you just to focus on style, making motion and how to recreate motion obsolete.


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