Winona Ryder in A Scanner Darkly
The theater lobby didn't hold any fascinating costumes and sci-fi models for Fantastic Fest on Saturday, and the metal detectors were gone, but that didn't mean that the programming flagged.

The first event I attended wasn't a full-length movie screening, but a panel discussion. Normally the very word "panel" can send me shrieking into the night, but Fantastic Fest handled panels/presentations very well. This one consisted of rotoscoping animation specialists from the upcoming adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, directed by Richard Linklater and shot/animated in Austin. Producer Tommy Pallotta was accompanied by lead animator Lance Myers. They showed a brand-new trailer and two clips from the film. However, most impressive of all, while the guys fielded questions from the audience, Myers started to rotoscope frames of the film using the software that animation director Bob Sabiston developed. The monitor of his Mac was projected onto the screen so we could watch him trace Robert Downey Jr.'s head in black, then fill in sections with color. It made me ponder a career in rotoscoping, except that I can't draw.

Pallotta explained that a live-action version of A Scanner Darkly had been shot in about five weeks on consumer-quality digital video. The animators received a final cut from the live-action shoot and went to work. The clips we saw from the film were still rough, but I got a good idea of the general effect. The animation is the same rotoscoping technique used in Linklater's Waking Life, but the scenes from this film appear more kinetic in tone. What was particularly odd to me was to see how the technique transformed such well-known actors in the film as Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder.

categories Cinematical