“Shake It Off” – University of Newcastle style

What do you get when you combine Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” 49 University of Newcastle animation students, and rotoscoping*?

Combine all the above ingredients and you get a loving homage to Taylor Swift’s video, with 2,767 hand-drawn frames. These four minutes of animation took four weeks to make—and is now going viral on YouTube.

Students from Visual Communications and Natural History Illustration were each given 52 frames of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and using the rotoscoping animation technique—the students took the footage and subverted it.

“The students really got into the process,” said Jane Shadbolt, Lecturer in the School of Design, Communication and IT. “Some of them loved the song, and others hated it, but all of them were able to bring their own unique interpretation to it. It’s a great way to get a feel for how animation is put together from thousands of frames and get a feel for how movement happens on screen.”

Students from Animation 1: Design from Animation learn about the principles and theory of animation practice, but not many have the chance to go viral.

When Jane Shadbolt shared the student video on YouTube it was so they all had the chance to see each others’ work and share it with their friends; however, in no time, the views started skyrocketing with viewers from around the world enthralled by this creative interpretation.

“Everyone is super excited to see their work being seen by so many people all over the world,” said Jane. “They all worked so hard on their individual frames to create each look it seems like a fantastic payoff for all that hard work. We’re all hoping Taylor Swift might see it!”

Animation is a relatively new subject at the University of Newcastle, which has been enthusiastically embraced by the students and staff.

“There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from the students to apply their design and illustration skills to both motion graphic and filmed animation and I think this is the beginning of some really exciting work from our animation students,” Jane said.



*Rotoscoping is tracing over live action footage. It’s been around since the beginning of animation and Disney used it extensively on Snow White,” Jane said.  “It can be used to give a real-life motion to animation or it can be a style all of its own. Richard Linklater also used the technique in his 2006 feature A Scanner Darkly.”

Master of Digital Media at the University of Newcastle

The Master of Digital Media has been designed to develop the digital media skills and knowledge of professionals in almost any field, providing a stepping stone to a new career or to enhance your current one.

You will explore this field through a range of progressive subjects including digital video, computer games design, internet communications, software engineering and much more. You will learn the latest techniques and information in digital design and production. It will enhance your knowledge and encourage and embrace your creativity, whist providing you with the practical skills to translate ideas to reality.


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