Loving Vincent, the First Ever Feature-Length Painted Animation

Imagine, if you will, a feature-length animation about the life and death of post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. Now imagine that the animation is made entirely from paintings created in Van Gogh's iconic style, and you're beginning to understand why we're so excited about Loving Vincent.


The movie is currently in production at Oscar-winning studio BreakThru Films, and will be the first feature-length film animated entirely through hand-painted canvases. Remember the 35-minute version of Blade Runner that was created in 12,597 watercolor paintings? Loving Vincent is a little like that, but more labor intensive. BreakThru describes the project on its Kickstarter page, where the studio is raising money to bring the project to fruition:

Every film you see is actually a collection of still images, played back at a speed that makes it appear to be moving. In our film about Vincent Van Gogh, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE individual images will be a painting in the style of Van Gogh. That means our 40 painters (which we will be able to train thanks to YOUR support) will create 56,800 PAINTINGS to make this film!! To make this possible OUR WONDERFUL TEAM created PAWS (Painted Animation Work Stations) that allows us to make the demanding process of stop-motion painting as efficient as possible, by allowing our artists to focus on the painting as opposed to the animation. In fact, over the past 18 months of R&D we've managed to halve the painting time of each frame, while maintaining the individuality of the painters.

And here's what the PAWS look like in person:

Illustration for article titled Loving Vincent, the First Ever Feature-Length Painted Animation

Pretty incredible, no? We hesitate to call Loving Vincent a more daunting undertaking than this 35-minute version of Blade Runner, which was animated with 12,597 watercolor paintings, seeing as it will ultimately represent the work of significantly more people (although Loving Vincent will also involve more paintings, of arguably greater detail); but we think you'll agree it looks impressive. We can't wait to see where this project goes.


[Loving Vincent via COLOSSAL]


With 56,800 paintings, one for each frame, and assuming the film will be 24 frames per second, which is standard, I calculate that the movie will be only about 39 or 40 minutes long.

Let's make a few more assumptions. Let's assume that each painting takes from 2 to 4 hours to complete. (I have no idea — it's an assumption.) That means that there will be from 113,600 to 227,200 work hours devoted just to that. If there are 40 painters working, that means that each painter will work on average from 2,840 to 5,680 hours on this project. For comparison, there are 2,080 work hours in a year, of which a typical worker may actually work around 1,920 work hours (assuming 20 days off work for holidays, vacation, sick leave, etc.). A rule of thumb among managers I have known is that people get in actual work about 75 percent of their time, the other time consumed by meetings and such, so each painter on this project will only have about 1,440 work hours to devote to actual painting.

That means that the project will take from two to four years just to produce the paintings. Each painter will work that long to produce 1,420 paintings, each of which will appear in the finished film for exactly 1/24 of a second.

And that's why some people may consider this project appalling.