Posted this on the temple right before I realized there was to be very little temple left. Anyways, hopefully I might get an answer here:
I'm working on an animated feature (still very pre-production) and I was hoping to use rotoscoping for a few sequences to cut back on production cost and cause it would look neat.
Would I be legally allowed to use copyrighted footage as a source since I'll be animating over every frame or would that still get me sued? I definitely don't have extra cash to shell out for royalties (or a lawsuit...).
Probably illegal unless this is a student project or something, but even if this is a serious thing that you want to get into festivals etc, who's gonna notice or care enough to sue your ass off unless it makes serious money? You can just say these scenes were simply "inspired" by whatever copyrighted footage you're using, and if they're sufficiently recontextualized, it would be pretty tough for anyone to call bullshit on this. Look at Tarantino, he blatantly steals scenes and images all the time and nothing major has ever gone down over it -- "it's an homage", he says.
On the other hand, you have things like Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema, where he used dozens, maybe hundreds, of classic Hollywood clips without permission, some of which were altered/recontextualized to the point of being difficult to identify, but the studios still sued to block distribution. Eventually some TV station in France ended up paying for all the rights, IIRC. I guess this doesn't apply to your case really, since it wasn't an animated film and it was 99% composed of footage from other sources, but it shows how the studios can be dicks about this kind of thing.
I'd just go for it. Likely worst case scenario if the film is a success: you're threatened with a lawsuit and forced to cut/heavily modify these sequences.