Loving Vincent is a 2017 film about the life and death of painter Vincent Van Gogh. It is the first fully painted animated feature film. First conceived as a seven-minute short movie in 2008, Loving Vincent was realized by Dorota Kobiela, a painter herself, after studying the techniques and the artist’s story through his letters.
Each of the film’s 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh, created by a team of over 100 painters. It won Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.
The filmmakers chose classically trained painters over traditional animators. In total there were 125 painters from over twenty countries. Van Gogh paintings informed the storyboard for the project, which were modified for the screen. These modifications ranged from simple alterations to re-imaginings incorporating different weather effects or time of day. A total of 65,000 frames were painted, but since artists painted multiple frames from the same shot on a single surface, only 1,000 paintings survived.
Production for the film began with a live-action cast filming against a green screen. After filming, editors composited Van Gogh paintings into scene backgrounds, and finally cut the movie together as usual. However, once the actual film was complete, they shot each individual frame onto a blank canvas, and artists painted over each image. The entire process, from the actual filming to completion of the paintings, took four years to finish.
“An animated masterpiece! An absolutely stunning film that not only does justice to the art of Van Gogh, but also to the art of movies. I have never seen anything on screen like it before. You will be amazed and lifted by this extraordinary film.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline