Over the weekend, game designer Éric Chahi shared footage of him playing with a toy car that was used to make one of the cutscenes in 90s scifi adventure game Another World come to life. It’s a cool look at what goes on behind the scenes of classic game animation.
1991’s Another World holds up remarkably well, thanks in part to its use of rotoscoping. The term refers to the practice of taking recorded footage and animating on top of it in order to make it look more realistic.(Think of the 80s cult classic Fire and Ice or early Mortal Kombat.) Chahi used rotoscoping to record toy models and transform them into carefully animated scenes that form the basis of Another World’s narrative.
Chahi’s tweet was a gif from a longer gif previously released by Last of Us 2 animator Jonathan Cooper, showing Chahi’s use of rotoscoping in more detail.
Another World is about a young scientist trying to find out how life on the planet started, only to have his experiment transport him to a strange alien world full of dangerous monsters and a fascist social order. There are almost no words in the game, and what little storytelling exists is almost entirely conveyed through these minimalist and eerily life-like cinematics. It’s amazing how Chahi was able to produce them using real footage that, in its original form, was unremarkable.
If you want to learn more, Cooper writes that he interviewed Chahi about rotoscoping in his book GAME ANIM: Video Game Animation Explained.