Thursday, November 17, 2016

'Loving Vincent' and my journey

Recently I returned from Gdansk, Poland where I was working May-Nov 2016 as a painter-animator on the world’s first hand painted animated feature film 'Loving Vincent' by Studio Breakthru Films. The film is based on the life and art works of Vincent Van Gogh. The trailer of the film is here

I was born and raised in Mumbai and graduated in Computer Engineering from Mumbai University in 2006 with distinction. After working as a programmer for a couple of years, I quit my job to follow my creative calling and did Masters in Animation and Film Design from IIT Bombay. In 2013 I decided that it was important for me to acquire additional training in classical realism to enhance my skills and draftsmanship. Thus, I travelled to Florence, Italy and then to New York, to pursue my art education at three renown art schools - Angel Academy of Art, Florence, Russian Art Academy in Florence and Grand Central Atelier in New York City. 

Two years ago, I saw the trailer of the Loving Vincent film. Van Gogh has been an inspiration to me because of his paintings, the subjects he chose and how he expressed himself through his letters. When I learned in April 2016 that Breakthru Films was interviewing artists to work on the film, I applied with my portfolio and within three days I was invited for a test in Gdansk, Poland. I flew there, passed the test, which was followed by three weeks of intense training to paint in Van Gogh style and animate. After the training I started painting, animating shots for the film. I worked there from the end of May till 31 October 2016, painting 7 complete shots. Every shot consists of hand painted frames that are used to create animation. I created 358 painted frames for seven different shots, all of which are included in the film. Every second of the movie consists of 12 painted frames. We had to reproduce Van Gogh’s paintings using similar brush strokes and his color palette.

Paint supplies after passing the test and training:)

My PAWS- Painting and Animation Workstation in the studio

As there are many artists working on a particular scene, it is important to match colors to the shots already created. The colors you paint often look different on the computer screen. And the color matching is done based on how it looks on the screen. Depending on the length of the shot, paints are prepared in good volume and stored in the plastic jars, labelled as they are used- Lights and darks for the skin, jackets, etc. And we use the same throughout the shot.

My workstation after first month: 

Second and third shot:

It was my first time in Poland and the life in Gdansk had been very pleasant. The city itself is very beautiful and conductive to art. The architecture of the old town has Dutch influence and is fascinating. Gdansk is the port city of Baltic coast, and there are beautiful beaches and green forests. At the beginning, when the workload was less, we would go to the beautiful beaches every weekend. We walked by the side of a forest on our way to work, where we picked apples and cherries for breakfast. It was a good life and being from Mumbai this was all so beautiful and amazing to me. It was wonderful working with the team of artists from all over the world, many who I can call dear friends made me feel like I had a family in Poland. 


Daily commute to work by the sides of forest with Sara and Setareh, my roommates. 

This has been such an enriching experience for me, for the people I met, the city and the film itself.

In October 2016 we did a group art show in Gdansk with 15 artists from the studio who were from six different countries (India, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Ireland, Iran). If you'd like to see the photos, here is the link

Following one’s dreams and passions is always very fulfilling, and support and a little encouragement coming at the right moment, can often change everything. My journey from beginning as a software engineer to traveling and working on the world's first fully hand painted feature length animation film has been quite adventurous and rewarding, with its highs and lows; and I have learnt to be true to myself, despite all the contradictions to what our culture and traditions dictate. And by sharing our journeys, we inspire others to be courageous and follow their own dreams. I am forever grateful to people in my life who have encouraged me to hold onto my dreams, no matter how rough the path looked like in the beginning. 

Thank You for reading.

More photos
Our first hostel room in Willa Nobla, quite close to the studio. Sara says it's like a bohemian belief, that you start and finish at the same place.. We were given accommodation here during our training days and we returned here when our apartment lease finished.

Day of the double rainbow- while walking to Anna and Michal's house, before moving to the apartment at Budapestanzska.

Hel beach.

At Anna's house

Getting ready for the show 'Diversity' at Piwna street.
Sara and Setareh in the Studio kitchen

Instagram posts-

Post by Dorota Kobiela, co-writer and co-director, 'Loving Vincent'.

Post by Hugh Welchman, co-writer, co-director and co-producer,  'Loving Vincent'.