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LISTS: Rotoscope Favorites

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If you’ve listened to the radio at all during the last month you probably noticed that Kanye West is riding high on the latest single from his 808s & Heartbreak album, “Heartless.” And, if you’ve spent any time in front of a computer screen during the last couple of months, there’s a good chance you’ve seen his brightly colored, Hype Williams directed video for the song.

(left: Kanye West’s rotoscoped alter ego.)

“Heartless” uses rotoscope animation, a technique performed by animators in which they trace–frame by frame–over live-action film movement. You’ve seen it in movies (Waking Life), you’ve seen it in iTunes commercials, and if you’ve seen Kanye’s latest video, than you should be familiar with rotoscoping.

Because I’m a fan of the technique and it’s trippy end product, I thought this would be as good of a time as any to list my favorite rotoscoped-music-videos.

Not in any particular order, here goes:

“Take On Me,” A-Ha
This is the measuring stick of music video rotoscoping. Because “Take On Me” was crafted in an age where we relied less on computers, you could tell there was some serious elbow greased used in the creation of this clip. Unlike much of the animation used in music videos from the 1980’s, “Take Me On” still holds up magnificently today.

“Destiny,” Zero 7
This ultra-chill song makes you feel even more relaxed after watching its music video. A clip focusing on routine, everyday events (passengers on a subway, a girl on a cell phone, little kids fidgeting around, etc.) has never been so interesting.

“Shoot The Runner,” Kasabian
I’m not going to lie to you, I liked the song long before I saw the video (so I’m sure there’s a certain bias). “Shoot The Runner” looks like an iTunes commercial, but because I don’t know what came first, I’ll save my finger pointing for another time. Inspired by iTunes or not, I love the look and color schemes of the clip.

“Shadrach,” Beastie Boys
One of a just a million reasons why the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique album was years ahead of its time. What hip-hop group in the late 1980’s would take live footage shot on surveillance cameras, have a surrealist artist paint over each frame, and release it as a proper music video? If you ever doubted that music video was fine art, give this piece a perusing.

“Go With The Flow,” Queens Of The Stone Age
If by chance you’re not familiar with Queens of The Stone Age, just know that they’re a band of big, tough, gnarly dudes. They don’t seem like the type of group that would be down for making an animated video, but it somehow works perfectly in “Go With The Flow.” The band gets to use their favorite color scheme (black and red) while they perform in the back of a speeding pick-up truck, which then drives down the highway right into the spread-legs of go-go dancer. No one said rotoscope animation couldn’t be a little naughty as well.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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