Everything Is Not Going To Be OK

A Scanner Darkly

Ever had one of those days when nothing seems quite right and reality is just a little blurred? Last night I went to see “A Scanner Darkly“, an insanely tripped-out film based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, about a future America where drug use is rife and perceptions seriously skewed. Like a graphic novel come to life, the film was shot using traditional live-action photography and then overlaid with an advanced animation process (interpolated rotoscoping) to create a haunting, highly stylised vision of the future. This is photo surrealism taken to the next level. Whilst it certainly looks the part this is not a film to sit down and enjoy per-say; it’s a pretty hard-hitting, thought-provoking and mind-blowing tale which you have to struggle to keep up with and as such may put off many people.

A Scanner Darkly

Staring The One himself, Keanu Reeves, we follow the lives of a set of misfits hooked on ‘Substance D’, a powerful drug which elicits hallucinatory paranoia. One of them, an undercover cop, whose identity is hidden with a kaleidoscope “scramble suit” (you’d need to see it to know what I mean!) is tasked with keeping them under surveillance leading to some serious questions of identity and eventually his complete brake down…

A Scanner Darkly

I don’t want to spoil the plot anymore so if you like what you’ve heard go and see it (and prepare for a headache afterwards)! (7/10)

David avatar

6 responses

  1. Yes, rotoscoping is an ancient process but the way it has been applied here is new. As Wikipedia says “Linklater is the first director to use digital rotoscoping to create an entire feature film.”

    I.e. this new process is what photoshop was to the paint brush!

  2. Rotoscoping in traditional cell animation originally involved tracing over film frame-by-frame. Rotoscope animation in this case, however, makes use of vector keyframes, and interpolates the in-between frames automatically and that's the difference here I think – i.e. artists digitally trace over some frames of live-action footage by hand then custom software fills in the rest.

    Btw… I'm not expert, but having seen the film, I've never seen anything quite like it before!

  3. Tom Fairweather avatar
    Tom Fairweather

    An advanced animation process? I can't decide whether one can justifiably label a technology as advanced if it is pre – first world war.
    What do you reckon?

    Looks cool though :p

  4. Tom Fairweather avatar
    Tom Fairweather

    What's new about it then? Are they drawing over digital files instead of drawing over a projection of the image? If so what's the diff? Is it somehow automated?

  5. Tom Fairweather avatar
    Tom Fairweather

    and imho i think photoshop was more “to the darkroom” than “to the paintbrush” 🙂

  6. Tom Fairweather avatar
    Tom Fairweather

    Ok I think you've justified yourself. Key frame stuff is quite old too so I guess the equation is something like ancient process + old process = advanced new process.


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