About Revisioned Pictures
It started simply. A fellow artist was working on an animation project and I was enchanted. It took me back to my earliest memories of childhood, reading illustrated books at my parent’s kitchen table, then drawing from them, picturing them animated and alive. As I got a little older, movies provided me worlds to escape into and later when I discovered comic books they too gave me more worlds and images to draw. Shortly after seeing my friend’s animation I decided that I would DRAW a movie.
What movie though? A classic, it had to be; I wanted this to have a broader appeal, to speak to a wider audience. Two films sprang to mind. The first- “Sunset Boulevard”- wonderful film, but not dynamic enough, too still in the imagery. My second thought I knew was the right choice- “Casablanca”.
So why that movie? It’s lack of color was a big consideration, that was one less variable. The photography is striking. The deliberate use of light and shadow to create interesting compositions appealed to my artist’s eye. Also, the camera is always moving, there are few static shots and even when the camera is still, the frame is filled with the most interesting faces I can’t wait to draw.
Does “Casablanca” fit my other criteria? Is it iconic, both visually and culturally? Does it appeal to others beyond my own personal taste? How many times have we heard, “Play it again, Sam” or “We’ll always have Paris”? Many people, beyond those who enjoy the film, can identify the movie from some of the more famous still frames. It is one of those films that even those who haven’t sat down to watch it feel they know.
It is one of our modern myths, as all the best films are, it speaks to who we are as a society and a people. Love. Sacrifice. Greed. Honor. Redemption. Loss. It’s a parable that will be true to us as human beings for as long as we are around to take it in.
I started drawing “Casablanca”, but not before I decided on some of the technical details…
First and foremost: the frame rate, which is the number of individual images that make up ONE second of film. The standard rate for a movie is 24 frames per second. At that speed the eye cannot detect that it is seeing a succession of still images and the brain interpolates this as a “moving” image. Unfortunately, it would be an impossible task to draw the entire movie at that many frames per second. That would be something in the area of 150,000 drawings. I halved it; I told myself 12 fps was reasonable.
When animated, 12 fps has a slight flickering effect, like a camera rapidly opening and closing. It’s just enough for the eye to detect it but its still rapid enough that we don’t quite “see” the individual frames as they flash by. After all, the brain is taking in 12 images every second. Expand that out, its 60 frames for 5 seconds, 720 for a minute, over 43, 000 an hour and the entire film comes in just under 73,000.
Because of the sheer volume of drawings required and with little variation frame to frame, I am essentially drawing the same image over and over. That process cannot help but spark creativity. How will I draw Humphrey Bogart the hundredth time? How about the thousandth time I draw Ingrid Bergman? How will the way I manipulate the tools change over time? How will it change me as an artist?
Secondly, I decided that each frame I complete should stand on its own as an individual drawing. I don’t want them to feel sketched or rushed, I want each to be a beautiful image. Each one needs to be able to hang on a wall as a finished piece. Many do, in fact, some on my own walls and a few in others’ homes.
My last rule: minus digital tools, anything goes. With 73,000 images ahead of me I will have ample time to explore, and maybe even master, a multitude of materials and techniques. For me, this is the most appealing aspect of the project. It will become a meditation on the making of marks, marks on a surface. Hearkening back to the first cave paintings, the final product will exist in space and time as a physical record- drawings, paintings, etchings, carvings, etc.
I’m looking forward to the results. I hope you do too.