by Mari Stauffer
If you are old enough to remember MTV in the ’80s (back when it actually had all music-related programming and played actual music videos), then surely the video for A-ha’s “Take On Me” will ring a bell.
This well-known and unique video was actually the second one made for the band’s hit single. The first was shot in 1984 and features the band performing an entirely different recording of the song in front of a blue background. The second one is the now-famous, half-animated love story that still makes many “Top-ten videos of the ’80s” lists around the world. It was directed by Steve Barron, known for his direction on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video, the Coneheads movie, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
The eye-catching pencil-sketch animation/live action combination technique used in the video is called rotoscoping. For the video, roughly 3,000 frames of live-action footage were meticulously traced over to produce the end results. The process took 16 weeks.
There is something timeless about a rougher, more raw technique like this, compared to the slick CGI of today’s “videos.” Not to mention, a story narrative, which was something that was much more prevalent in 1980s music videos, seems to have been abandoned nowadays for a more straightforward depiction of the artist(s).
Cheers to A-ha and their comic-book themed, rotoscoped, little love story video!