Animated film ‘Loving Vincent’ boasts 65,000 hand-painted frames by 123 artists

The art form of visual arts are different from the art forms of the cinema arts. Painting is one particular moment in time, frozen. In the cinema, the images are fluid, seeming to move through space and time. Hence, prior to and during the live action shoot the Painting Design team spent one-year re-imagining Vincent van Gogh’s paintings into the medium of film. There are 94 van Gogh’s paintings that feature in a form very close to the original, and there are a further 31 paintings that are either feature substantially or partially.

Van Gogh’s paintings come in different shapes and sizes, so the design painters had to work out how to best show these paintings within the frame set by the cinema screen. This required breaking outside the frames of the artist’s paintings, while still retaining the feel and inspiration of the his originals. They also had to work out how to deal with ‘invasions’, where a character painted in one style, come into another van Gogh’s painting with a different style. Moreover, for the purpose of the story, sometimes change daytime paintings into night time paintings, or paintings which were done in Autumn or Winter, had to be re-imagined for summer when the journey of the film takes place.

The Character Design Painters specialized in re-imagining our actors as their famous portraits, so that they would retain their own features and at the same time recognizably take on the look and feeling of their character in painting form. There were 377 painting painted during the Design Painting process.

The painting animators then use the reference footage, and paint over this with reference to the style (brushstrokes, colors, impasto) set by the Design Paintings to paint the first frame of their shot on canvas, sized 67 cm by 49 cm. Then they animate the shot by re-painting, matching the brushstrokes, color and impasto of their previous frame, for all parts of the shot that are moving. At the end, they are left with a painting of the last frame of the shot. Each frame is recorder with a Canon D20 digital stills camera at 6k resolution.

The Painting Animators work in the Painting Animation Work Stations (PAWS) designed by Break Thru Films over the course of 2 years during the development of the project. PAWS allow the painter to focus as much attention as possible on painting and animating without being concerned about the lighting and technology, and allow for consistence across resolution photographs of 12 frames of painting make up each second of the film. After the photographing of the frames of painting there is simply some flicker correction to balance between shots. As a result, what the audience will be seeing is 65,000 high resolution photographs of actual oil-paintings.

Immerse yourself in the magic of Loving Vincent, now showing across Philippine cinemas exclusively distributed by Solar Pictures.

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