Aesthetics of Film Images in Oil Painting Animation

- Focus on <Loving Vincent, 2017>



Yijun Cao, Hyunseok Lee


Dept. of Visual Contents

Graduate School of Dongseo University

Busan, South Korea,






In order to explore more possibilities of the combination of oil painting animation and to promote its better development, this thesis is based on Andre Bazin's Aesthetics of Film Images and Wassily Kandinsky's Theory of Artistic Painting, analyzing how to use Van Gogh's original works and painting style to embody the aesthetics of film images in the production of the oil painting animation film <Loving Vincent, 2017>. From the sociological and artistic point of view, <Loving Vincent, 2017> highly integrates pure art and images, changes the pattern of the Vatican, breaks through the limitations of the frame, and naturally neutralizes the contradiction between the pursuit of realism and the limitations of painting techniques in the mid-19th century.


Keywords-Oil Painting Animation; Aesthetics of Film Images; Pure Art; Painting Theory


1. Introduction


1.1. Research Background


Bazin established three pillars of the theoretical system of film realism: ontology of photographic images, psychology of film origin and the evolutionary view of film language. Artists such as Kandinsky, Itten, Albers and others, studied how the presence of colors, affects the viewer emotionally, and applied these studies to their artworks: “Discovery of relationships, mediated by the eye and brain, between color agents and color effects in man, is a major concern of the artist.” [1]. Kandinsky believes that browsing through a group of colors at random can achieve two kinds of experience, pure physical impression and psychological effect of color. The analysis comes from the perspective of the depth of field and mummy complex in Bazin’s aesthetics theory of film on the basis of Kandinsky's inner necessity and the theory of people's visual perception of color. Depth of field is very important in scene scheduling, which makes the relationship between audience and image closer to reality. Perspective gives the viewer a three-dimensional visual effect, and artists often use halo method to express the perspective structure.


1.2. Research Theories and Methods


Bazin believes that the use of psychoanalysis to trace the origin of painting and sculpture will reveal the mummy plot. Ancient Egypt and religion advocated the fight against death by living, believing that if the body was immortal, life would last forever. Artificially preserving the human body's shape meant holding the life forever and making it immortal [2]. With the development of art and civilization, plastic arts have been able to get rid of the function of witchcraft. As far as art forms are concerned, there is an external similarity based on the inner necessity, which is simply emotional communication and emotional resonance between the audience and the author. Kandinsky sums up the whole process of art appreciation as follows: emotion (artist) - feeling - artwork - feeling - emotion (audience). Kandinsky's theoretical analysis of the psychological effects of color suggests that when a group of colors makes another color block move horizontally by contrast, the color group will also be affected by this color block, and it produces another strong separation movement. This kind of color movement is the first antithesis of color because of the difference between cold and warm colors [3]. This paper, centered on <Loving Vincent, 2017>, elaborates the visual effects in the film pictures with Kandinsky's color theory about the psychological effects of blue and yellow on people.


2. The Mummy Complex and Inner Necessity in the Oil Painting Animation Film <Loving Vincent, 2017>

Ancient Egypt placed several pottery statues near the sarcophagus as spare mummies, and when the bodies of the deceased were destroyed, they acted as stand-ins. From the religious origin of sculpture art, we can reveal its original function: copying the shape to preserve life. As the times progresses, plastic arts gradually get rid of witchcraft functions. <Loving Vincent, 2017>, produced in Van Gogh's style, has a recording function in the form of hand-painted oil animations to help people remember Van Gogh, so that he won't be forgotten. Art works have internal and external elements, with the internal elements being the artist's inner feelings, which can arouse the audience's inner resonance. The senses are influenced by the media, which can arouse and stimulate emotions. It is the creation of art for feeling to build a bridge between immaterial (artist's emotion) and matter. On the other hand, it is the appreciation of art for feeling to bridge from the material (artist and his works) to the immaterial (audience's inner feelings). Art forms are determined by irresistible inner forces, the only unchangeable law of art, which is called the "inner law" [4]. Van Gogh's more than 2,000 paintings over the past 10 years have incorporated his own emotions and thoughts, while the director and production team of <Loving Vincent, 2017> have inspected about 400 Van Gogh paintings, and interviewed experts at the Van Gogh Museum to learn about Van Gogh. Eventually, Van Gogh's life was narrated in the form of oil animation, showing the world his feelings and salutations, and the audience was moved and sympathized with the film, which is the essence of the film.


3. The Relationship between Screen and Painting


3.1 Theory of the Relationship between Screen and Picture Frame in Bazin's Film Aesthetics


Bazin thinks that the screen completely breaks the space of painting. In fact, painting is opposed to reality itself through its surrounding frames, especially the reality it represents [2]. That is to say, although the frame stands in nature, the fundamental function of the frame is to emphasize the heterogeneity of the micro-world and the macro-world of the painting, which is a caring space that only opens to the inside of the painting. The frame causes the inward direction of the space. On the contrary, the scene that the screen shows for us seems to extend to the external world [2].


3.2 Coordinated Processing of Screen and Painting in <Loving Vincent, 2017>


<Loving Vincent, 2017> broke the delicate contradiction between frame and screen. The high degree of fluidity of the oil painting materials and Van Gogh's unique Arabesque strokes with a large number of curved Arabic patterns make the painting itself filled with a sense of movement. Not only does it not lose other painting modeling characteristics, but also influenced by the spatial characteristics of the film, the painting has the potential to spread around the world of painting characteristics. Marguerite Gachet at the piano is one meter wide and 50 centimeters long. The proportion is rarely seen in painting. For better visualization, the director imagines Van Gogh looking out of the house at Marguerite painting for her, with the doorframe as the foreground. As is shown in Figure 1:



Fig. 1 The movie screen and the paint

3.3 The Relationship between Depth of Field Lens and Perspective Painting Embodied in <Loving Vincent, 2017>


A decisive event is the invention of perspective painting, which is the first scientific system, a system of preliminary mechanical properties (Da Vinci's box is the precursor to Niepce's box) [2]. The box can produce an image that conforms to the principle of monocular perspective without the use of "optical components." Perspective allows the painter's painting to give the viewer a three-dimensional visual effect, and the spatial structure of the image can appear to have a direct sense with us. Van Gogh likes to move in observing things when he paints, so the perspective of painting often has its own characteristics. In order to illustrate that some of the features of the clear area are defined by depth of field, the film has to change the perspective structure of Van Gogh's works to make it conform to the realistic perspective. First, the actor enters the green screen and then turns it into CG animation, and finally draws it. <Loving Vincent, 2017>, as is shown in Figure 2, uses rotoscope and PAWS system to match the less accurate perspective of Van Gogh's paintings with the depth-of-field effect in the film, and to move photography in certain scenes, to reproduce Van Gogh's scenes horizontally or vertically. While maintaining a high degree of consistency with Van Gogh's style of painting and painting scene contents, the audience can feel personally in the scene, as if they entered into the real world of Van Gogh. The vertical swing motion of Cafe Terrace at Night in the movie is shown in Figure 3:



Fig. 2 The process of green screen turn into CG animation, Fig. 3 The movie capture


4. The Psychological Impact of the Use of Blue and Yellow in <Loving Vincent, 2017> on Audiences


4.1. Kandinsky's Analysis of Yellow and Blue


Yellow and blue also produce centrifugal and centripetal motions that affect the horizontal motions mentioned above. Two circles in the landscape include a yellow one and a blue one. The yellow circle creates a centrifugal movement that slowly diffuses and approaches the audience visibly, while the blue circle shrinks inward and avoids the audience slowly. When you look at the yellow circle, your eyes will feel a sting. When you look at the blue circle, you will have a feeling of cotton sucking [3]. Yellow is outgoing and difficult to understand, and blue is restrained and resistant to expand.


4.2. The Use of Blue and Yellow in Movies


As is shown in Figure 4, the film draws on 34 Van Gogh's original works, which contain obvious blue and yellow, such as Starry Night, The Bedroom, Wheat Field with Crows, Starry Night Over the Rhone, Self-Portrait, and so on. The two colors collocate and cancel each other out to calm down. Based on the achieved results we can imagine going further and defining higher-level content characterizations by associating the color content to the human perception [5]. The film picture brings tension to the audience without losing the visual sense of peace, especially the final selection of Van Gogh's self-portrait showing the retrospective plot, from grey to color progressively. Yellow beard, hair color, blue clothing and calm, soft and lonely atmosphere needed by film plot created by background are shown in Figure 5:



Fig. 4 The movie capture, Fig. 5 The final capture of movie

5. The Process and Result of Case Studies


Table 1. The Process and Result of Case Studies


6. Conclusion


This thesis is based on Andre Bazin's aesthetics of film images and Wassily Kandinsky's theory of artistic Painting, analyzing the aesthetics of film images of the oil painting animation film <Loving Vincent, 2017>. Oil painting animation film is not to "affect" or abandon painting, but to add a new form of existence for painting. The existence of oil painting animation film balances the hidden conflict between film images and pure art. This film which is produced in Van Gogh's style is based on aesthetically processed works, and it has a recording function in the form of hand-painted oil animations to help people remember Van Gogh. It finished creation and appreciation of art for feeling to bridge between immaterial (Van Gogh's emotion) and matter (Van Gogh’s paintings) for two times, and from the material (Van Gogh and his works) to the immaterial (Directors' inner feelings), then from the material (<Loving Vincent, 2017>) to the immaterial (audience's inner feelings). The film uses rotoscope and PAWS system and units the halo method of oil painting and depth of field lens to change the perspective of Van Gogh’s painting by using vertical swing motion etc. to maintain a high degree of consistency with Van Gogh's style of scene. According to Kandinsky's analysis of the use of blue and yellow’s psychological impact, we can find that these 34 film pictures bring tension to the audience without losing the visual sense of peace, especially when the final selection shows the calm and lonely atmosphere needed by film plot created by the change of colors.



[1] Andreza Sartori, Dubravko Culibrk, Yan Yan, and Nicu Sebe, “Who’s Afraid of Itten: Using the Art Theory of Color Combination to Analyze Emotions in Abstract Paintings,” MM '15 Proceedings of the 23rd ACM international conference on Multimedia, October 2015, pp. 311-320.

[2] Andre Bazin, Qu’est-ce que le cinema? 1rd ed., Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2017, pp. 1-363.

[3] Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1rd ed., Chongqing: Chongqing University Press, 2017, pp. 92-131.

[4] Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Chongqing: Chongqing University Press, 2017, pp. 38-131.

[5] B. Ionescu, P. Lambert, D. Coquin, V. Buzuloiu, “Color-Based Content Retrieval of Animation Movies: A Study,” IEEE Xplore, Dol: 10.1109/CBMI.2007.385425, July 2007, pp. 295-302.