November 25, 2011

"The Old Man and The Sea" by Alexander Petrov

This is a 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.

Work on the film began on March 1997. It took Aleksandr Petrov and his son Dmitri until April 1999 to paint each of the 29,000+ frames. The following 5 months was dedicated to the sound effects, music and mastering of the film. The technique used was pastel oil paintings on glass, it has only been mastered by 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 frame by frame as he shot the images. For the shooting of the frames a special adapted motion-control camera system was built, probably the most precise computerized animation stand ever made. On this an IMAX camera was mounted, and a video-assist camera was then attached to the IMAX camera. French and English-language soundtracks to the film were released concurrently. It was the first animated film ever to be released in IMAX.

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