Loving Vincent is the world’s first feature-length animated film created entirely with oil paintings in the style of Vincent Van Gogh and includes artwork by two graduates of the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School (HAS). Illustration majors Tyler Berry ’16 and Ryan Chapman ‘16 flew to Poland after Commencement in May and spent the next six months working alongside other artists from around the world to bring Van Gogh’s paintings and the characters in them to life.
Berry and Chapman worked on just a portion of the 90-minute movie that took six years to complete and was filmed with real actors shot against a green screen. Using a technique called Rotoscoping, stills from each scene were projected on a canvas so the artists could paint over them in Van Gogh’s style of thick, bold brush strokes.
For every second of film, Chapman says 12 paintings were needed. “Once a painting was completed, two photos were taken of it—equating to 24 frames per second,” he explains. “I worked on one scene that had 226 frames, or 113 paintings, so one month of work easily amounted to about 10 seconds of film.”
Berry and Chapman estimate they each hand-painted nearly 600 frames that were among the more than 62,000 needed to complete the film that chronicles the last days of Van Gogh’s life—based on in-depth research and the hundreds of letters the artist wrote to his brother Theo.
Upon arrival in Poland, Berry and Chapman had to pass a “nerve-wracking” test to make sure they could do the painstaking work. “I bought a one-way ticket, because I didn’t know if I was going to be there for three days or six months,” says Chapman. After passing a three-day test on their ability to paint and animate, they worked out of a studio in Athens, Greece for two months before returning to Poland.
Both credit the illustration coursework, strong studio-art curriculum, and exposure to a wide range of art disciplines as being invaluable preparation for the film experience. The real world environment at HAS also was beneficial. “We learned how to pace ourselves appropriately which really helped us meet the tight deadlines,” says Berry.
Loving Vincent, is the production of Oscar-winning BreakThru Films and Trademark Films. It is scheduled for release in 2017. Visit the film’s website, lovingvincent.com, for information about release dates in the U.S., and to watch the film's trailer.