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Blade Runner in 12,000 animated watercolor paintings
November 18, 2013 3:01 PM   Subscribe

"I've seen things that you wouldn't believe."
posted by Brandon Blatcher (39 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note: Each painting is 1.5cm x 3cm. (.6" x 1.2")
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:06 PM on November 18, 2013


I'm not a huge Bladerunner fan, but... wow. This is incredible.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:06 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Replicant.
posted by mittens at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


(oh, wait, the earlier one was just a teaser!)
posted by mittens at 3:13 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we sure something isn't being lost in translation regarding the 1.5cm x 3cm (i.e., basically 35mm film stock) size of the paintings? This doesn't really make any sense to me.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2013


*thinks through late nineteenth century painters, trying to make a Scanner Darkly pun*
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2013


Are we sure something isn't being lost in translation regarding the 1.5cm x 3cm

Like any translation, it's different from the source material, but that doesn't make it bad. Is it good? That depends, as always, on the viewer.

To me, it's mesmerizing overall because of the loose watercolors, which let my brain fill in something more than pure visual stimulus. The watercolors work best in the scenes with Deckard and Rachel, IMO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:22 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is beautiful and wonderful and what the Internet is for.

But it is also almost the type of thing I want to find out is somehow faked. Because the implication of hand-painting 12,597 animated watercolor paintings (or however I should phrase that) is almost too much for me to bear.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:29 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do you like our owl? (6:15)
Did you get your precious photos? (10:32)
How long do I live? More than you! (20:20)
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion (31:46)

Sadly I couldn't find the firey skyline, Sebastian's friends, nor the plate glass crashing scene. I was hoping to see how he'd handle those iconic film images, maybe it's asking too much.
posted by Nelson at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like any translation, it's different from the source material, but that doesn't make it bad. Is it good? That depends, as always, on the viewer.

I was just suggesting that the OP's statement that Ramsell "hand-painted each of the thousands of 1.5 by 3 cm paintings that make up the film" seems like it might be an actual error in translation. I'm having a really rough time navigating Ramsell's site, but I can't find anything anywhere from the artist stating that the paintings were that size. Perhaps they were, but it seems way more likely that the size is referring to the original frames of film.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:57 PM on November 18, 2013


OK, disregard my doubts... Hadn't noticed the actual text on the youtube page. It still strikes me as odd, though. I know people that work in aquarelle, and I just can't imagine those sort of brush strokes at that size.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:01 PM on November 18, 2013


I'm just appalled that this guy spent all that time making crummy versions of something that already existed. I want to be nice, as he seems like the kind of obsessive dude who'd read all the comments about his project, but... his watercolours are just terrible. And his idea stinks. And 18 months hard labour hasn't improved a thing about this project.

I hope he gets loads of plays on Youtube and buys a boat or something, because I'm nice like that. But I'm going to have trouble restraining myself if this horrible mangling of art, film, and literature is brought up in conversation with me.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:01 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok, back to the skepticism... If the header photo on his facebook is one of his painting from this, it's... well... a whole lot bigger than 1.5cm x 3cm, and I have to agree with The River Ivel. It's not good painting in any way; it's basically sloppy and obsessive rotoscoping. If it gives people pleasure, so be it, but it's no different than running Citizen Kane through a few Photoshop filters.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:07 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And now I've looked at the gallery photos and given up on having opinions. Apologies for the one-man derail.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:10 PM on November 18, 2013


Needs more eyes

I liked this
posted by KokuRyu at 4:11 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The artist needs to consider fading between slides. I found the motion too jerky and disorienting. Also, scanning the artwork in a manner that flattens out the waves in the paper would be good. I'm a huge Blade Runner fan. I'm not sure I can totally get into this artist's interpretation. How is it adding to the original?
posted by quadog at 4:23 PM on November 18, 2013


I've been meaning to find an artist who would like to illustrate my take on Blade Runner if it were written by Dr Seuss...
posted by mbrubeck at 4:48 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


At first i was like, "this could look a lot better." But I saw Brandon's comment about these only being 3 cm wide. Then I was like "wow."

Would be cool to get like 15 BR artist fans together and get a project screen going to crank out some seriously detailed rotoscoped watercolors.
posted by Halogenhat at 5:02 PM on November 18, 2013


It's not unlike the dream camera imagery from Wim Wneders' Until the End of the World.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:07 PM on November 18, 2013


Really wish this was up on vimeo. Youtube hates long videos and steadfastly refuses to play more than 2-3 seconds of this at a time without a 20 second+ pause for loading another 2 seconds, even on the fast connection at my work.
posted by emptythought at 5:09 PM on November 18, 2013


How is it adding to the original?

For me, the unclear faces allow the masking effect to occur, which draws me in. It also lends an emotion depth to the story, as if what the characters are feeling has become visual.

I wouldn't mind some clarity and tighter quality control, not much. The loose watercolors are working for making it seem otherworldly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Youtube hates long videos and steadfastly refuses to play more than 2-3 seconds of this at a time without a 20 second+ pause for loading another 2 seconds, even on the fast connection at my work.

Plays fine for me FWIW.
posted by ersatz at 5:33 PM on November 18, 2013


I am a borderline obsessive BR fan, but the first 30 seconds or so, which I foolishly listened to without audio, mostly reminded me of an Enya video.

I've always found something musical in BRs strange, stilted line readings. Sadly even the super long making of documentary doesn't touch on why the performances are as odd as they are.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:44 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This sucks. I'm just about finished with my 5,000,000 frame watercolor interpretation of Andy Warhol's Empire, and this dude is gonna put out a measly 12,000 paintings?
posted by orme at 5:50 PM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


his watercolours are just terrible.

No they aren't, especially as frames of the animation.

And his idea stinks.

Why?
posted by treepour at 5:55 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, nothing I've done with my life has been worthwhile.

Well.

Fuck.

Anyone got a drink? Where's BitterOldPunk or Jonmc?
posted by aramaic at 7:06 PM on November 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


This was great — thanks for posting this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:16 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is lovely, really. It's always nice to see something in a slightly new way.

Though it also brought back memories of unpaid-for Playboy channel on cable TV.
posted by maxwelton at 10:50 PM on November 18, 2013


If you had in mind to do a film in watercolour I think there are better choices. How about Picnic at Hanging Rock?

I'd like to think there's an allusion here to Bartlebooth, the bored aristocrat in the Perec novel, who spends most of his life on a project where he travels the world painting watercolours, has each one made into a jigsaw, solves each jigsaw, and has the paper glued back together and bleached back to white. The futility of the immense project being an important part of the point.

But probably not.
posted by Segundus at 12:13 AM on November 19, 2013


What's with that hammer driving a nail into a hand, right before the unicorn? I don't remember that from any version of Blade Runner I've seen.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:44 AM on November 19, 2013


Magnificent and futile. The artist has too much time on his hands.
posted by epo at 3:13 AM on November 19, 2013


No, he doesn't. This took a lot of time to make.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:16 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's with that hammer driving a nail into a hand, right before the unicorn? I don't remember that from any version of Blade Runner I've seen.

Roy Batty drives a nail through his own hand when he starts to feel his replicant body wearing down. Christ imagery is fun.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:48 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


emptythought: "Really wish this was up on vimeo. Youtube hates long videos and steadfastly refuses to play more than 2-3 seconds of this at a time without a 20 second+ pause for loading another 2 seconds, even on the fast connection at my work."

Which is in NO WAY an argument for using some sort of "download helper" browser extension that might enable you to download and view AWFUL STUPID AUTOPLAY AUTOSTUTTER Youtube videos the way the creator intended them to be seen. Nope.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2013


The River Ivel: "I'm just appalled that this guy spent all that time making crummy versions of something that already existed. I want to be nice, as he seems like the kind of obsessive dude who'd read all the comments about his project, but... his watercolours are just terrible. And his idea stinks. And 18 months hard labour hasn't improved a thing about this project."

That's a lot of animosity to work up over someone's art project. Why on earth are you appalled that someone spent their time doing something they wanted to do? Some of my friends knit socks instead of buyng them; is that appalling? (Some of them aren't even very good at it!)

And, "his idea stinks" - that's pretty much a "This band sux!" level of post. Glad you contributed.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:40 PM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Roy Batty drives a nail through his own hand when he starts to feel his replicant body wearing down.

Except Roy just pushes the nail into his hand, with his other hand. About 1:03, here.

In the watercolor video, there is the shot of the hammer, a shot of Roy's face, and a shot of a hand, palm up, knuckles to the camera, being struck. It looks like shots from The Passion of the Christ, at around 1:35, here.

That's pretty cool and all, but I haven't watched the whole 34 minutes yet. I wonder if he snuck in any other shots from other movies.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:57 PM on November 19, 2013


That's a lot of animosity to work up over someone's art project.

Y'know, it's often better than 'meh' though.

I don't get the not getting of Bladerunner. It's a cinematic touchstone whether one likes it or not. Like The Godfather or Citizen Cane, etc.
And as a sort of iconic piece of film yeah, I think it's an obvious, solid thing to do a project on. I happen to like this work, but it's not, or wouldn't be, by any means appalling the way that it might be if it took some obscure, far less visually interesting film.

Holy shit, nothing I've done with my life has been worthwhile.
Well, least you're not going backwards. Ahmana have to start meditating regularly again or drop acid just to shoot par.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:06 PM on November 19, 2013


I don't get the not getting of Bladerunner. It's a cinematic touchstone whether one likes it or not. Like The Godfather or Citizen Cane, etc.

As a fan of the original Philip K. Dick novel, I couldn't get over how the book's multitude of layers was reduced to a fraction of its paranoid brilliance, and all the masterful set design and cinematography in the world couldn't make the film feel any less poorly-scripted and -paced.

Just one man's opinion, and I get why other people'd feel otherwise, but I do believe there is meaningful room for variation in opinions here.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:58 PM on November 19, 2013


As a fan of the original Philip K. Dick novel, I couldn't get over how the book's multitude of layers was reduced to a fraction of its paranoid brilliance, and all the masterful set design and cinematography in the world couldn't make the film feel any less poorly-scripted and -paced.

A younger me would have agreed with you, and that is no way a diss on you. I felt that way about a lot of book>movie conversions, or comic to TV show, or whatever.

I think you have to take it as a completely separate work. Not as a remix or a cover, but as being inspired by the original novel. I don't know if you've read any number of kurt cobain interviews where people asked him some tired question along the lines of "what do you say to people who say you ripped off XYZ artist/song" in which he points out that everyone picks up riffs and such from songs they love, or songs they loved as or remember from being a kid. He points out tons of examples of it going on way back into the past in the early days of rock in the 50s and 60s.

Because really, that's what it is. And i think the fact that they didn't even use the same title is a big plus for that argument. Too many people take "based on a novel" to mean "a direct interpretation in which any variation is a failure". That, is a very comic book guy attitude. And while i can understand how and why people would be disappointed that they didn't get that, i think you were misreading if you thought that's what it was proclaiming to be on the tin.

What i'm getting at, is that there's(at least) two schools of thought when it comes to interpreting this, and many other novel>film conversions. One is that it's trying it's hardest to be a direct interpretation and failing. The other is that this isn't a cover band playing a shitty version of a song that can't hold a candle to the original, but creating something new that's different enough to really only be inspired by the original.

One of these is a path to disappointment.

I think this is an especially strong argument because the story, and even most of the characters the movie follows is so disconnected from the novel that it's like the star wars extended universe or something.

I will add that it took me a VERY long time to get over it and accept option B.
posted by emptythought at 2:49 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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