Database for Animation Studies


‘Don’t Box Me In’: Blurred Lines in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly

This article seeks to evaluate the visual style of Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, predominantly through an analysis of the films' aesthetics. The use of Rotoshop as an expressive means to illustrate character and theme, where identity becomes sketched and multi-faceted rather than fixed or stable is explored here. Yet this aesthetic play with borders has a greater resonance than simply a means by which to delineate thematic preoccupations with troubled identity. While such representations are indeed key to these two films, the darkly outlined contours of character borders, which move and slide incessantly, also comment on the blurred divide between live action and animation. Central to the argument is the use of the animated line in understanding these two films; the line provides impetus for exploring several issues raised by the films and the use of Rotoshop. This article explores the following key ideas: the animated line and aesthetic analysis; Rotoshop technology; the representation of fragmentary identity; and the relationship between photo-real cinema and animation, with a particular focus on narrative and spectacle. The author addresses Rotoshop within the context of technology and spectacle; taking industry practices into account allows for an appreciation of how a technological innovation such as Rotoshop can change the shape of live-action cinema.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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