29 July 2015

"The Old Man and the Sea" painted on glass

The Old Man and the Sea (Старик и море) is a 1999 paint-on-glass-animated short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov, based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film won many awards, including the Academy Award for Animated Short Film. Work on the film took place in Montreal over a period of two and a half years and was funded by an assortment of Canadian, Russian and Japanese companies. French and English-language soundtracks to the film were released concurrently. It was the first animated film to be released in IMAX.

The film's technique, pastel oil paintings on glass, is mastered by only a handful of animators in the world. Petrov used his fingertips in addition to various paintbrushes to paint on different glass sheets positioned on multiple levels, each covered with slow-drying oil paints. After photographing each frame painted on the glass sheets, which was four times larger than the usual A4-sized canvas, he had to slightly modify the painting for the next frame and so on. For the shooting of the frames a special adapted motion-control camera system was built, probably the most precise computerized animation stand ever made. 
I was familiar with the story, but fascinated by the technique used, so I tracked down this video about the artist:

The style of the animation reminded me of the classic The Man Who Planted Trees, but it appears to be technically different.  This video presents a step-by-step instruction on the painting-on-glass technique.

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