A new meaning for arthouse cinema – hand-painted frames are the new HD (video)

19 Mar 2016

Loving Vincent director and producer during filming in London

A mesmerising new trend has emerged where artists are hand-painting movies and videos frame by beautiful frame.

Although the internet has brought all the world’s art to our fingertips, there is still nothing like standing in an art gallery and staring in silence at something produced by the human hand months, years, decades, even centuries ago.

For me, it is the intimacy, a kind of connection with someone else’s footsteps or a shadow or echo. It’s almost like the wind you feel when someone brushes past you. I sometimes look for the way the grooves of paint stand like tiny mountains on the surface of the canvas, untouched since the artist.

If it’s a painting of individuals, like an old portrait, I look in the eyes and try to imagine them alive and in the moment. I certainly get this emotion when I look at Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. Or sometimes it’s the sense of movement like rippling water or fluttering flags or the wind blowing through meadows and moving clouds in the sky when I catch myself staring at a painting by Claude Monet like Coquelicots (Poppy Fields) or La Promenade.

These feelings were stirred when I found myself studying a trailer for a new movie about the life of Vincent Van Gogh called Loving Vincent, which is unlike any movie ever produced because it required 12 oil paintings per second by over 100 artists all trained in the same style.

Apparently it’s the first movie of its kind and each frame is an oil painting. 12 paintings per second adds up to over 720 paintings in one minute.

The film is a biopic about Van Gogh’s life and mysterious death and is told through the characters and landscapes in his paintings.

Produced by Oscar-winning company BreakThru Films it pivots around 120 of Van Gogh’s most famous works. Still, a work in progress, with artists still being recruited, the movie is expected to take two years to produce.

Another example of this new genre is the music video for Ralf Hildenbeautel’s Disco. Director Boris Seewald had animators and dancers come up with 1,250 paintings on paper.

These then move like one continuous dance. Each drawing or painting is done in a different style. But it all comes together magnificently.


Ralf Hildenbeutel – Disco from Boris Seewald on Vimeo.

Gigglebit is Siliconrepublic.com’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, to help start your day on a lighter note.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years