Francis is an inventor. His invention is supposed to change the world. He forgot about one thing: dreams always cost too much. He is focused only on himself and his work and realizes the gravity of the situation only when it is too late.
how it all began
"The Kinematograph” is an adaptation of a comic with the same title created with a pen and crayon by Mateusz Skutnik. It was included in the album "Rewolucje: Monochrom". It all started with a journalist, Krzysztof Lipka-Chudzik, who introduced the afore-mentioned album to Tomek Bagiński. The idea was simple: it was all about a concept for a new film that the director was also looking for. Bagiński, who is always bombarded with new film projects, was close to dropping the challenge posed by Skutnik's art until he started to read "The Kinematograph”. The comic turned out to be a ready-made film script.
I had just finished "Fallen Art” when I got hold of Mateusz's comics. Before I had a look at them, they had been lying around for about two weeks. Finally, I took them with me on two-day premarital classes where I could not have either a computer or a mobile. Maybe because of peace and silence there this story made a huge impression on me. "The Kinematograph” was almost a ready-made script for a short film. It had a great plot, an interesting beginning and a conclusion. It could appeal to a bigger audience which I also try to reach - says Tomek Bagiński.
three years of "The Kinematograph"
Realization process in Tomek Bagiński's latest film took fourteen months altogether. It all began in 2006. We had the first go at the project three years ago. In 2006 after reading the comic the first models, sketches and storyboards were created. A small group of friends came together and created a preproduction package. It was closely related to the aesthetics of the comic. It was
nice when it comes to background but the characters had too large heads and ears. It looked great in the comic but when we started composing the film, did not look that good according to the director. The characters looked like rodents, like some rats. Since it was supposed to be a film about feelings and we had to believe that a creature with a head like a balloon and eyes like lumps of coal could be the object of our hero's feelings, it stopped being believable. The characters had to be beautiful. That is why, even though I wanted to make "The Kinematograph” it came to nothing and again I started having doubts about the project - explains Bagiński.
"The Witcher" to the rescue
"The Witcher" appeared on the horizon. Work on it took over a year and a half. Then my approach to directing changed. Thanks to "The Witcher” I managed to gather a great close-knit team with e.g. Grzegorz Kukuś - CG Supervisor. With such people around, we could think about productions that could be realized in our studio. We stopped being intimidated by such technicalities as a simulation of clothes or hair. "The Witcher” solved many such aspects and we could use it in a short. So
the idea of "The Kinematograph” came back to us even though I was not entirely convinced. I got in contact with Jakub Jabłoński. I knew he is a fantastic graphic artist and I asked him to make a few concept projects. Jakub received our concepts and after a few days he sent his own. They were spectacular and it was then when I started having faith in the film. The two-year break turned out to be really necessary. I stopped thinking that we had to stick to the comic's aesthetics. We needed to concentrate on its storyline and prepare it to the tools that we had. I knew that was it when I looked at Jakub's projects. We started designing everything from the beginning and the real production took off. The downside was that the former concept was simpler and, what follows, cheaper. From an uncomplicated film to a big enterprise. Perhaps this story presents such requirements - explains the director.
Jakub Jabłoński's appearance brought new life to the project. He designed the characters which matched the film language and format perfectly. The world that he proposed, even though it referred to Mateusz Skutnik's art, took on a character of a colourful fable where warmth was met by melancholy.
We did not want the aesthetics to bring the viewer down, but to make the sad message of the story lighter. Everything was supposed to resemble a fairy-tale but at the same time not to be cartoonish or Hollywood-like. We wanted it to be associated with a puppet film. I designed the characters. The idea was that the background would refer to illustrations in a children's book - explains Jakub Jabłoński.
The film takes place at the end of the 19 th century, just a moment before the Lumiere brothers' invention. You can recognize the Victorian period and even though the action supposedly takes place in England, the setting can be associated with many other places. I did not want to copy the era but merely refer to it, so that it was clear. The stylization, some kind of lightness, fairy-tale atmosphere, a new style were more important. We wanted to create something nice and interesting, something that does not pretend to be something else - stresses Jabłoński.
The making of a short film turned out to be a real challenge for the Platige Image team as they had never had to face anything like that before. About fifty graphic artists took part in this enterprise. For almost a year, they were working on bringing Francis the Inventor's story to life
on the screen. 270 processors at a total power of 675 GHz, i.e. one third computing power of the whole Studio. The film includes 17,250 frames, 40,000 frames in strips. 5,000 trees with 10,000 leaves and 100,000 polygons each were created in the computers' memory. There are eighteen characters and seventy-four props in "The Kinematograph”. The whole film weighs over 1.5 terabytes."The Kinematograph” is a huge challenge - twelve minutes of animation is a real nightmare. We usually make thirty-second stuff and here the stakes were raised much higher. Before making such a project we were gaining experience and skills for the last three years .
We made "The Witcher”, then a series, which was a step ahead from commercials to a bigger format. During this production - which was a challenge in itself - the first take turned out to be the most difficult. We fly from the clouds through the city, we pass people and enter the house in one take. We get to detail without any cuts. There are a lot of houses - each and every was designed from scratch. Everything must look good up close and from afar - explains Grzegorz Kukuś.
Fifty percent of the film's success is the music. Tomek Bagiński invited two composers who co-operated with him on "The Witcher”. The pieces created by Adam Skorupa and Paweł Błaszczyk were to be played by the symphonic orchestra. We were writing the music together with Adam Skorupa. Adam created the part with a sad atmosphere. Tomek wanted to distinguish the first part from the second so that it would not reveal what would happen in the next one. I wrote the main theme, as well as the beginning and the illustration of Francis's ecstasy - tells Paweł Błaszczak.
We did this trick on purpose to achieve the difference in climate. Two composers, two different styles and all the bigger disproportion with what happens at the beginning of the film and at the end - adds Adama Skorupa.
Although the final effect was to be reached using live instruments, the process of making music was "traditional”- using computers and electronic instruments. Eventually, the music was recorded using the orchestra conducted by a famous Polish pianist, conductor and arranger, Krzysztof Herdzin. The musician was the orchestrator of the music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, awarded by an Oscar. It was a great moment of my life. I got such an opportunity for the first time. The music that we wrote was accepted by Tomek and others and had to be synchronized in full orchestration. Fortunately, there was money for it which is not that easy in such projects. The fact that I could work with that orchestra was a great honour and experience for me.
And the fact that we had to change sample instruments into live ones led to other things. We had to write a score that is why we turned to Krzysztof Herdzin who helped us write everything. We has a small but sufficient team of instrumental artists. We had people for string instruments and a piano but did not have people for a harp, drums, woodwind instruments such as oboe, clarinet, etc. So we had to piece it together cleverly so that the sound of live instruments would not be destroyed by other sounds produced differently. All in all, the orchestra spent twelve hours to synchronize eight minutes of music. Everyone put a lot of heart and effort in it - says Skorupa.
We started work using computers but we knew it would be rewritten for a real orchestra. Not all computer samples can render the spirit. A live orchestra adds a lot of life to music and it is very important in this film. It highlights the emotional sphere and this was our aim from the very
beginning. The main motif should not be too joyful but had to remain positive. The main hero was to create something ususual in a minute and the music was to deepen this, add emotions, the rhythm and pace - adds Blaszczak.
Besides, both composers had a clear message from the director to create something unique that they had never done before. Music in "The Kinematograph” is an element without which the film would not have the power. Beautiful, moving sounds, perfectly completing the picturesque story told on the screen were created. From the very beginning we knew it would be a film about love and
emotions. Tomek Bagiński wanted to have the emotions conveyed by music. He even suggested that it is a musical and he wanted music to express all the emotions which cannot be conveyed by image. That is why we heard that we were supposed to write the greatest and most beautiful music that we had ever written. This was really demanding. We put a lot of work here. We started composing in November. Eight minutes took us four months but I hope the effect will be satisfactory - says Adama Skorupa.
a short conversation with the director
What made you choose "The Kinematograph”?
We made a solemn "The Cathedral”. Then for a change I made a mocking satire "Fallen Art” where blood flows. So I thought I would make a film which can be best characterized as a drama or a love story. It was a good moment for another short film which would be completely different from the other two.
What is this film for you?
I treated it as a technical challenge. There was time for a grim feeling. I am clearly intrigued by stories which touch this soft spot. That is why I haven't got involved in a full-length project because I'm not that into things for children. I prefer more serious subjects. So when I work on animations, I am left with short grim formats. In "The Kinematograph” I was enchanted by the way of showing the main hero's tragedy which was devoid of the gloomy Polish dirt. It is a very nostalgic story. The sadness that appears there is not overwhelming or repulsive. There is some warmth in it after all. For me it is the power and beauty of this story.
Where does this romanticism come from?
I wanted to show a certain beauty without crossing a thin line behind which lies tackiness. I hope most people will watch "The Kinematograph” simply as a nice film. We wanted to achieve such an
effect. Music makes a great impression. The music and the sound are fifty percent of the effect and it cannot be ignored. I knew that Adam Skorupa and Paweł Błaszczak with whom I worked on "The Witcher”, would cope with the subject really well. I asked Adam whether he would make the best music he had ever made. I promised he would be able to record the composed material with a real orchestra and I kept my promise.
Did you see what it means to be a director of an animated film?
The film is not only a sum of all the elements. My role in it is about doing something myself. When it comes to an animated film, there are so many talented people in the realization process, often better graphic artists, draftsmen and modelers that my participation should be about not interfering with their work. I only have to join these pieces together into something that will become a story and will really affect people.
Is "The Kinematograph” aprelude to your full-length film ?
From a technical side it really is a preparation to a longer film. Our previous films were in a way "guerilla” productions. We were a group of friends who got together and did something. Budgets were derisory so it was all about doing favours. But here we are dealing with the first production which we decided to deal with in a fully organized way, like with a full-length film, keeping to all the necessary stages. We have started to use the experience that we gained working on "The Kinematograph” in advertising productions.
You made the film in the English version. Why?
At the beginning we planned to use presynchronization for the Polish version too but we could not generate more costs for the project. We also knew that we simply had to have the English version. If you plan to succeed with a short film, it has to be shown not only on the local market but mainly abroad. The audience of "The Kinematograph” will be mainly a festival audience. The quality of the film has to be decent so that it's not embarrassing and can be watched. For instance, the Americans hate reading subtitles. So the original version had to be English so that we wouldn't lose a large number of viewers. Presynchronization was recorded in England with English actors and an English sound director. In Poland the film will be shown with Polish subtitles.
Is this the last short by Tomek Bagiński?
It may be my last short film. It's time for bigger formats. Firstly, this is what people expect. Secondly, I'm older and I want to move on. It's quite difficult in this country but it's worth trying. Probably I won't drop short films altogether because I'm planning to produce some shorts and
make other films using pseudonyms not associated with Tomek Bagiński. Formally, it will probably be the last film of this kind by Tomek Bagiński.
Tomek Bagiński (born 1976). Director, animation producer. He is a self-taught artist. He left architecture studies to make films. His first student film Rain won several local awards in 1998 and became an entry pass to Platige Image studio, where he currently works as an Art Director. From 1999 to 2002 he worked, with short intervals, on his important debut short film The Cathedral. The film won the first prize for Best Animated Short at the largest animation and special effects festival SIGGRAPH in 2002 and it was nominated a year later for an Academy Award in the category Short Film (Animated).
In 2004 he completed his second short animated film entitled Fallen Art. He won the Jury prize at SIGGRAPH festival in 2005 and became the first person in the history of the festival to have won both main prizes. The confirmation of the success of both The Cathedral and Fallen Art
are numerous awards and the films’ screenings at tens of international
festivals. He received BAFTA Film Award for Best Short Animation. When not working on his own projects he produces special effects and animation for film and advertising productions (over fifty completed projects). He is also no stranger to theatre productions. He is the director of, among others, a virtual set for a commemorative concert of Krzysztof Penderecki entitled Seven Gates Of Jerusalem which was the basis for a musical-ballet film nominated by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Emmy Award 2009.
He completed his latest film The Kinematograph in 2009. He currently prepares the realization of his first feature-length film Hardkor 44.
Filmography (short animated films):
(1997) RAIN: Director and Creator
(2002) THE CATHEDRAL: Director and Creator
(2004) FALLEN ART: Director
(2009) KINEMATOGRAPH: Director
Filmography (special projects):
(2006) THE ACADEMY OF MR. KLEX - stage performance: Animation
(2007) THE WITCHER - intro game cinematic: Director, Art Director
(2007) THE WITCHER - outro game cinematic: Director, Art Director
(2008) THE WITCHER: RISE OF THE WHITE WOLF - game cinematic:
(2008) SEVEN GATES OF JERUSALEM - stage performance:
Platige Image (www.platige.com)
A leading Polish post-production studio with over ten-years’ experience in advertising and film market. It has been constantly prized for its activities both in Poland and abroad.The studio specializes in creating computer graphics, 3D animation, special digital effects and image composition for advertising and feature-length productions. Its track record includes several hundreds of advertisements, opening credits, video clips as well as special projects such as social campaigns, theatre productions and ventures commissioned by state institutions. An indispensable part of Platige Image’s activities is the production of animated films. The studio consists of three departments: PI Commercials, PI Animation, PI VFX Film.
PI Commercials - a department handling realisation of 2D, 3D animation and special effects for advertising productions. It has been cooperating with prestigious advertising agencies and production houses for years. Currently PI Commercials’ track record includes over
1 500 advertisements. It has been continually cooperating with foreign clients such as JWT London.
PI VFX Film - a department handling realisation of special effects for
feature films mainly. It has created special effects for such films as
Katyń, Popiełuszko, Zero and the controversial Antichrist directed by
Lars Von Trier. Thanks to its vast experience supported by an
appropriate technological back up and its own software, PI VFX Film is
able to produce the most advanced special effects.
Since 2009 it has been continually cooperating with a British company
The Mill Group, one of the most widely recognized brands in the world.
The partnership of both companies is to provide Polish market with the
possibility of working with the best, outstandingly talented specialists in
the field of special effects in the world.
PI Animation - a department handling realisation of 3D animation. Its
track record includes such productions as Tomasz Bagiński’s films:
Academy Award-nominated The Cathedral, Fallen Art, which won the
British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Award for
Best Short Animation, and the director’s latest film, The Kinematograph, nominated for the Golden Lion prize of the 66th
International Film Festival. Short animated films have guaranteed Platige Image the main prize at the largest festival of animation and special effects SIGGRAPH three times so far, as well as a Golden Palm nomination at Cannes film festival.
PI Animation has also created animated films for the video game The
Witcher for which it received a nomination of the American Visual
Effects Society, as well as Niezły kanał, an animated TV series, realised
for Canal +, which won many awards.
While creating animated films, PI Animation implements the so-called
special projects commissioned by theatres, museums and other cultural
and art institutions. One of the recent productions is the virtual set for a
commemorative concert of Krzysztof Penderecki entitled Seven Gates
Of Jerusalem which became the basis for a musical-ballet film
nominated by the International Academy of Television Arts and 9/13
Sciences for Emmy Award 2009, and animations for Krzysztof Pastor’s
Platige Image organises its own feature-length productions. Currently,
the company is working on the realization of a family animation
Grandma (Babcia) and a live-action film HARDKOR 44 telling the story
of the Warsaw Uprising in quite an unconventional way.
Filmography (short animated films):
(2002) THE CATHEDRAL): Producer
(2002) UNDO: Producer
(2004) FALLEN ART: Producer
(2006) THE GREAT ESCAPE: Producer
(2006) MOLOCH: Producer
(2007) ARK: Co-Producer
(2008) TEACHING INFINITY: Distributor
(2008) CHICK: Producer, Distributor
(2009) THE KINEMATOGRAPH: Producer
(2010) PATHS OF HATE: Producer (in production)