What is Rotoscoping?

Rotoscoping (commonly called roto) is a technique that involves tracing images frame by frame. In VFX rotoscoping is generally used for the creation or augmentation of a matte, for example, to help complete a green screen composite.

The term was first coined by animation pioneer Max Fleischer, who used it to create the effect of characters interacting with live-action footage. Rotoscoping techniques were also used in the original “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” film, as well as in other early Disney films such as “Fantasia” and “Bambi”. In the early days of rotoscoping, images were projected onto a screen and then traced onto celluloid. Today, the process is much easier thanks to digital technology.

It is also frequently used in live-action films to create mattes that allow for seamless visual effects, such as integrating CG characters into real-world environments. Whether it’s adding a bit of magic to a live-action scene or creating an entire animated world, rotoscoping is a versatile tool that has been used in films for over a century.