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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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