Loving Vincent: A cinematic oil painting
by Dorota Hartwich
- The animated feature by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman is an unprecedented and daring technical venture, and is currently in production in Wroclaw, Gdansk and Athens
Twelve oil paintings per second of film, 56,000 works of art and 85 painters hard at work: these are the ingredients needed in order to create Loving Vincent [+see also:
film profile], the first feature-length animation in the world to be made with oil paintings.
The first group of painters is toiling away at the CeTA (Audiovisual Technology Center) in Wroclaw, Poland, sat at PAWS (Painting Animation Work Stations) – which are especially designed to facilitate the process of painting for animation – and two other setups of a similar style are being used in Gdansk and Athens. The PAWS are a true innovation: each frame is equipped with a mounted camera and a projector. Thanks to this projection and the Dragonframe software, each painter is able to see the movement he or she is currently creating, as well as the one he or she created previously. In total, more than 600 candidates applied during the process of recruiting the painters, half of whom were invited to complete a series of tests, and 51 were trained up for the film. Interestingly, the technology for the film’s production is based on a classic technique mixing painting with photography.
As Dorota Kobiela, who is directing the movie with Hugh Welchman (a producer at Breakthru Films and the winner of the 2008 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for Peter and the Wolf by Suzie Templeton), explains, it was a sentence that the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh himself wrote to his brother Theo which determined the style of the film: “Well, the truth is, we cannot speak other than by our paintings!” A painter herself, Kobiela also wrote the screenplay together with author Jacek Dehnel; the script drew inspiration from a mass of correspondence (800 letters) in order to recount the story of the artist’s life through the eyes of those closest to him, particularly the people who posed for him, such as young Armand Roulin.
Produced by Polish outfit Breakthru Films, Loving Vincent has a budget of around €17.55 million, including a co-production by Trademark Films, backing from the City of Wroclaw (European Capital of Culture 2016), the Lower Silesian Film Fund (Odra-Film) and the CeTA, among other sources of funding. The movie’s theatrical release is planned for the end of this year. Sold abroad by CMG (Cinema Management Group), the film has already been acquired for a number of territories, including France, where it will be distributed by La Belle Company on 14 December.
(Translated from French)