Interview
Ralph Bakshi
Emru Townsend: One of the things you hear from people who work in animation is that you love rotoscope.

Ralph Bakshi: I don't love rotoscope.

It almost seems like you do.

I don't love rotoscope. It may seem like I love rotoscope, but I don't love rotoscope. In fact I hate rotoscope.

For someone who hates it, you used it an awful lot.

That's right.

How do you think I learned to hate it? [laughs] How do you get to hate something? You live with some women, they fuck you over, you learn to hate them too. It's only in contact with things that you get know it and hate it. You shouldn't hate anything you don't know. [laughs] Have I taught you something, son? [laughs]

I'll have to take that to heart. [laughs]

What the fuck is that all about? Absolutely. Who would know better than me? [laughs] You're funny.

You got a lot of criticism for that—

They can take their criticism and shove it up their ass. Ask me the next question. What do I care about people's criticism?

Well, I know you don't care about it. But the thing about it is—

The thing about it is what?

I've always found the criticism kind of shallow. Because what I'm wondering is—

All CGI is rotoscope. What do you think CGI is today? All those special effects and everything you do—I was using primitive CGI. Stop calling it rotoscope. All animators are now being thrown out of work because all of CGI and all of animation's going rotoscope. The only difference between what I did—this is serious now—and what they're doing is they've got this other step the computer does that's called rendering. So you take their rotoscoped fucking action, and you render it like I've never seen anything possibly—hair is glistening, teeth are shining—they cover up all the rotoscope with all this fantastic rendering, but it's all rotoscope! They call it CGI, I call it rotoscope with machine rendering.

Sure I got criticism from animators for using rotoscope. But if anyone could tell me how I was going to animate the flight to the Ford [in Lord of the Rings], which is nine ring wraiths chasing Frodo on horseback, without rotoscope, let me know how and I'll do it tomorrow. There was no answer to that in my day. There wasn't CGI. How else should it have been done? There was no other way. Would I have liked there to be another way? Sure. Do I like rotoscope? No. Was it impossible to do Rings without rotoscope? You could not do Rings without rotoscope.

What I'm saying is, sometimes [certain] techniques are needed. Now the fact that it was primitive compared to where it went—I was in the primitive days of what CGI is doing. Look at the orcs. That came as close to rendering as you can get without a computer, with rotoscope, leaving the photographic image underneath the animation. It's the same attempt that they're doing in CGI. Now every special effect picture like Matrix and everything is all rotoscope, and people don't complain about it. Well, that's the end result of what Bakshi started, you can tell them that. [laughs] You can tell them they can kiss my ass.

Actually, there are a couple of animators who call computer motion capture "Satan's rotoscope." They aren't particularly happy with the computer stuff either.

No, rotoscope is shit! I couldn't stand rotoscope, but how else would you do the Rings? Those people that complain, you should [say to them], all right, motherfuckers. You're an animator, sit down and do the flight to the Ford, with nine wraiths chasing Frodo. Go ahead. I dare you. And finish it in less than ten years. Not to talk about the 200 orcs coming over the hill.

So who are they kidding? But that's okay. Those are the same people that complained that I wasn't doing the kids' films, that I was ruining the business. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Those wimps. [laughs] You can quote me.

I'm going to hazard a guess here. When you were working on [The New Adventures of] Mighty Mouse, you and John Kricfalusi really got along, right?

I love John.

I can tell.

I love John. John's the greatest animator since me. [laughs] John Kricfalusi is my best friend. I trained that kid in how to be an asshole. [laughs]

I have to admit, I do like how combative both of you are. Personally, I like your style of combativeness better than his, but hey.

He's got no intellect. John's just combative. I keep telling John, you've got to have reasons to be angry. You just can't hate your father all the time. [laughs] This fucking guy's got a lifetime of hating his father and doing all these cartoons about it. I said, John, lighten up, find something else. Read a book.

We had lots of fun, John and I. The good thing about John and I, we both love pizza. That's the secret. John loves pizza like crazy.
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