Friday, July 24, 2009

Retrovideo Friday: Rotoscope Style

Since it's Comic-Con weekend, I've decided to stick with a similar theme for this week's Retrovideo Friday by choosing an eighties classic that combines animation with live action.

This Week's Pick: "Take On Me" by a-ha (Year: 1985)

Norwegian new-wave band a-ha's "Take One Me," from Hunting High and Low, is one of those infectious synth-pop songs that's nearly impossible to get out of your head thanks to its fast beats and falsetto chorus. So it's no surprise that the song was accompanied by an equally memorable video that was even parodied on an episode of Family Guy.

The video's signature look, which featured black and white pencil sketches juxtaposed against real life, was created using rotoscoping, a technique where live action is traced over frame by frame to make animated characters look realistic. The main storyline is your typical (but not-so-typical) romantic tale. A girl sits inside a coffee shop, reading a comic book. The guy inside the comic book (played by Morten Harket, a-ha's lead singer) winks at her, sticks his hand out and invites her into his world. Meanwhile, the waitress in the real world comes by, thinks the girl has skipped out on her check and angrily crumples the comic book to throw it away.

Different panels in the comic book collide, and two villainous characters start pursuing our heroes — Harket tears a hole allowing the girl to escape back into the real world. When she rushes home with the comic book to see what happens next, Harket eventually breaks out and joins her. This scene was apparently inspired by the 1980 movie Altered States.

The video went on to win six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards — "Best Concept Video," "Most Experimental Video," and "Viewer's Choice" were among the awards it won that night. The song itself reached number two on the UK Singles chart in 1985. In the United States, it hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Watch the video for "Take on Me" below, and then check out the slightly bizarre (but fairly hilarious) Family Guy parody right below that to see how the video has stayed relevant in pop culture to this day.

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