A Scanner, Brightly


It began with Richard Linklater’s Waking Life. That 2001 animated film spelled out several radical theories that are now widely accepted as immutable fact. No. 1: Life is truly a dream, and only by embracing that dream state can we achieve enlightenment. No. 2: Ethan Hawke’s face is a lot less scary in animation. No. 3: The guy at the coffeehouse, the one who keeps buttonholing you into tedious “meaning of life” conversations? Well, he has friends in Hollywood. Lots of them. And No. 4: You don’t need to know how to draw to be a fancy “animator.” All you have to do is make a regular movie and then run it through a program called Rotoshop, as Linklater did with Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. It runs on off-the-shelf Macs and makes movies look like the rotoscoped cartoons of Ralph Bakshi, only more vivid. But that costs a bundle, so if I were you I’d go to Cartoonize.net and use its free tool to make your color photos look like stills from Waking Life. It’s fun, and it beats the shit out of the alternatives—which are learning to draw, or being Ethan Hawke.