Painted Animation – A Scanner Darkly

July 5, 2006 · Filed Under Theatrical Animation 

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Painted animation makes that point. In the 1920s, Max Fleischer created Koko the Clown by filming his brother dancing around in his clown outfit. Basically, he traced the character from the film and filled in the drawings with ink. This was crude “painted animation”.

This week the full length painted animation feature, “A Scanner Darkly”, opens nationwide. In this modern version of the technique, the film was shot as you would a normal movie. The print was transferred to the computer and laboriously painted to give an animated comic book effect. In essence, CG animation meets Max Fleischer and Koko the Clown. Who says 2D animation is dead? A detailed explanation of the painted animation process is available here.

There are two great things about this movie. First of all, it’s made from a Philip K. Dick story. If you haven’t read his stories, you should. He’s a very interesting character. His later books were weak but, by that stage of his short life, his mind was an EPA superfund site. “A Scanner Darkly” was published in 1977 and was probably written at the peak of his career. Philip K. Dick was the ultimate paranoid living in a paranoid time and paranoia makes for good stories. After all, if you want to hold the attention of an audience, everyone better be out to get ya and everyone IS ALWAYS out to get you in a Dick book. Painted animation is uniquely suited to capturing the paranoid chemical soup of the original novel. And, secondly, it’s 2D animation. This Dimpled guy can’t wait to see the movie.

[tags]A Scanner Darkly, painted animation, 2D animation, Philip K. Dick[/tags]



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