All the Wrong Reasons

Experimental Rotoscope Film is a Dream You Can Watch with Your Eyes Open

“Everyone makes experimental films when they dream,” Brooklyn-based painter and experimental filmmaker, Jeffrey Scher wrote in the New York Times.

His film All the Wrong Reasons was originally made for the New York Times’ Opinion page, as part of his blog, The Animated Life. Comprised of almost 3,000 paintings and collages, the rotoscope animation is an ode to ‘big cathartic dreams, a labyrinth of fleeting moments full of metaphor and mischief.’

‘I love to paint, so the number of paintings is a measure of the amount of fun I had making them,’ Jeffrey told us of his process.

He uses watercolour, inks and pencils and works fast and splashy. The rotoscope technique (invented in the 1920’s by Max Fletcher of Betty Boop and Popeye fame), allows Jeffery to create animations from movies with great and peculiar accuracy. He has been exploring this technique in a number of films since the 1980’s.

We had all the right reasons to find out more about Jeffery’s work:

The Plus: Coming from a painting background, how did you make the transition into this medium?
Jeffrey Scher:
I like to work in Rotoscope because it lets you truly explore an image and/or action in depth. It’s also the best way to paint because the individual paintings don’t have to be great, they just have to work as a whole, when animated, or viewed at 15 frames a second, (I generally shoot 2 video frames for every one drawing). That lets you experiment a lot, because there’s no such thing as a mistake.

TP: How did you come to work on The Animate Life Blog with the New York Times?
My relationship with the NYTimes began when the illustration editor from the Opinion page visited a gallery show of my paintings and films and called me up out the blue. It was a dream offer to make the kind of films I was already making, except for an audience of millions. The first film I made was L’eau Life on Vimeo and it was popular enough for them to have me stay on.

TP: What are the current projects you’re working on?
I am currently working on a series of paintings that are like films, but animated by the viewer as they look through the image.
I’m also working on updating a welcome trailer I made for the IFC center (A cinema in downtown NYC). The first one has been running for ten years, the text in the center was designed so the theater management could change it when they liked, and the theater manager actually proposed to his wife by having the proposal appear in the trailer while they were watching together.