Have you ever watched a Disney movie and thought, “Something about this looks familiar?”
You were probably right.
A new video certainly highlights the fact that some of our favorite childhood movies weren’t quite as original as previously thought, anyhow. Disney animators often reused movements from older scenes in newer movies. There’s even a name for this technique — rotoscoping, which sounds more like a plumbing term but is actually defined as “an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films.”
Rotoscoping was initially used by animators because it helped them to realistically capture scenes with movements. For example, a scene which involved dancing would result in an actual couple being filmed, movement by movement, and then the stills from the footage carefully traced, capturing each live action step and gesture as true-to-life as possible.
But then Disney began to rotoscope their rotoscoping — meaning footage that had originally been rotoscoped by animators from actual actors was then rotoscoped again, so that many scenes, from one Disney movie to the next, are virtually identical except for the identity of the characters.
This particular technique was less about capturing realistic movement and more about speeding up the process — remember, this was back when each scene was drawn by hand — and thus saving both time and money. And although rotoscoping was once animation’s “dirty little secret” — animators would sometimes mention “reference footage” but never to tracing — Disney relied upon it heavily.
The footage in the video embedded below is all from Disney and is a mashup of clips from Sleeping Beauty, Beaty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Robin Hood and The Aristocats. All Disney classics, of course, and all animated films which borrow heavily from each other, movements not just similar but actually mirrored, as motions were traced and simply characters changed.
Disney, of course, admittedly created some of the most gorgeous animation of all time, and even using a technique that many consider mechanical, made magic on screen for children and adults alike, time and time again.
But it is pretty mind-blowing to see the movements of one princess seamlessly become the movements of another different princess, which then become the movements of a dancing vixen, which turns and becomes the white cat from another Disney film.
Click here for the 2015 release schedule for Disney’s upcoming movies. And make sure to watch the clip below — it’s amazing!