RotoJam: Ballet Noir Edition

What does one do with unused footage of a ballerina? Rotoscope it of course! 

“RotoJam” became a collaborative project where Grayden Laing, Alexandra Popouchina, Jean-Guy MacLeod, Shawna-Lee Tai, Marc Bedard, Emily Waknine and I banded together to create a work that displays a range of aesthetics and techniques by tracing over different sections of live footage. The end result is an animated short film with seamless transitions between styles as the ballerina performs her routine.

Animation by Shawna-Lee Tai
RotoJam’s inception occurred when I was editing my thesis project Ballet Noir, and noticed that I had a lot of extra footage that did not end up in the final cut. I previously collaborated with a dancer, Emily Bruno of Ballet Jorgen, to record video of her dancing so I would be able to use it as a reference point while I animated Ballet Noir. Since I could not fit everything in my short film, I asked “why not make another short film with the extra footage?”

Collaborations are fun and when you combine a lot of animators on a rotoscoping project, the end result progressively becomes more interesting. I also wanted to encourage animators to keep their skills sharp and exercise their creativity by presenting them with the task of rotoscoping something they may not have thought about animating. 

Animation by Grayden Laing
RotoJam: Ballet Noir Edition is meant to be the first instalment of a series of RotoJams I will be hosting. Using found footage that will look great when animated is the key to hosting more RotoJams. If you are interested in participating in future events, please email me at

My work is online at

Article written by Ashley Lo Russo.