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dsol
11-30-2013, 02:29 PM
I just read this awesome piece at Vanity Fair about Tim Jenison's amazing work on replicating Vermeer's painting technique. Or rather, solving the mystery about how the painter managed to so perfectly capture light and detail in his 15th century works.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/11/vermeer-secret-tool-mirrors-lenses

Massive respect to Tim - as if he didn't deserve it already! This is just mind-blowing stuff :)

Riff_Masteroff
11-30-2013, 03:25 PM
Amazing, just amazing. I did read the whole article once, and partly twice. Could have a deep discussion about "implications". Good catch, Dan, and tnx for the heads-up.

Dodgy
12-01-2013, 12:59 AM
I saw the Hockney documentary and I thought this had all been decided long ago that he'd used some sort of camera obscura, but Tim's work just cements it in my mind. Vermeer was a great with brush, but this shows he also cheated like a basket like we all do :) Excellent work from Tim.

safetyman
12-01-2013, 06:34 AM
I saw an interview Tim did a while back and this was one of the topics. Tim is a genius.

spherical
12-01-2013, 03:42 PM
this shows he also cheated like a basket like we all do :)

I don't consider it "cheating" at all. When you think about it, Vermeer did more work in order to obtain a better result. Some people would call it photograph copying, of a sort, done before photography existed. What's the difference between using a photograph as reference and painting en plein aire? Still the same scene. Working without reference when doing realist painting is idiocy; unless the image one is creating is realism but not intended to be any particular location that exists IRL. It is impossible to accurately remember a color. One cannot maintain the entire relationship of objects in a scene in memory.

When I read that article, I was reading about myself. I had no formal or even informal training in art, let alone using an airbrush. Trained as an engineer. When art "happened", I applied engineering and science principles to teach myself and understand what it was that I was trying to do. I experimented with a plethora of media, recorded my findings and then employed that which produced the effect that I wanted for a given illusion. Lots of stuff didn't work as I had expected; much did.

My first painting wasn't done in paint; it was Magic Markers. I developed a method of soaking the markers into the linen illustration board fibers and then using very light colors built up in many layers in order to obtain fades, soft edges, etc.; not knowing what an airbrush was at the time, but wanting to obtain that type of result. This is that image:

118473

I have created systems to assist me in synthesizing a correct perspective view from only orthographic projections. They were for an Interior Designer. I was doing ArchViz but in traditional media on illustration board by hand. The building didn't exist. How to obtain a view of a space that looks as if it did exist and was photographed? Analyzing the physics, I realized that the ortho projections contained all of the information I needed, but in a form that needed extraction somehow. The system developed is that of choosing a "lens" for its focal length and field of view and placing it at the location from where I wanted to view the room. Then a straight edge was used to project tick marks of significant elements in the room onto the left, right, top or bottom edge of the frame. The tick marks corresponded to the edges of, say a column; both top and bottom as seen from the side and right/left as seen from the top. Then the corresponding tick marks were used to place points on the board that were the column's extents. Mind-bending and required intense concentration to keep all of this blizzard of tick marks and points straight in my head. It had to be done all in one sitting or I'd lose my place and valuable information that would have to be reconstructed. No one could figure out how I did it.

I initially limited myself to the properties of 50mm lenses, as they are close to what the eye perceives. The interesting aspect of it is that it operates as a shift/swing camera; keeping the verticals parallel, while producing corrected perspective. Didn't realize that at first but found out.

One illustration of office landscaping required a wide angle lens. Should work. I tried using a 90 horizontal field of view in order to keep elements in the image large and also take in as much of the area as possible. The system wasn't working as I expected. Things weren't lining up... by a lot. Why? Eventually, feeling that the system was correct, I wasn't fully understanding it, I set out to learn what was happening. Intermediate elevation points were projected, such that I could then use shorter segments to see what was being drawn. The otherwise straight columns were curved. I continued into the image, projecting more and more points and then realized what was going on. The system was working; perfectly. It was producing barrel distortion from the transition from 3D space onto a 2D plane!

These ArchViz images are recorded on 4x5 and 8x10 film. I'll scan a few and put them up. Should have them on my website anyway and write a complete account of this process.

This was long before computers like we sometimes take for granted today existed. I wished for such a machine. One corporate image job for RCA was to paint geosynchronous satellites for an advertisement in just about every major magazine going at the time. It had to be correct. I was working in pencil on paper to do the sketches prior to going to finish. In order to get the hardware configuration correct, I used the same system to generate the angle I wanted of the spacecraft from the engineering drawings. Got them all drawn in detail and the AD decided that the third satellite from the left should be just to the right of the large one in the center. Easy for him to say. I had to redraw all of the ones that had to move all over again. Got that done and he moved another one. :oye:

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Painting that solar array took quite a while to get right. Piece of cake, now, as is all of this that we do with these tools today. I am thankful for them but also value the hands-on experience of figuring out on my own how to get from where I was to where I wanted to go; and do it in the best way possible—whatever it took. My take on it is that if one can use their brain, perhaps in cross-discipline, to gather and use more information in order to produce something, so much the better. It'll be a treat to talk with Vermeer one day and compare notes, because we're cut from the same cloth and I understand perfectly.

3DBob
12-03-2013, 07:44 AM
Really wonderful stuff.

There is no such thing as talent, the word talent suggests the artist didn't have to work to get that good, which is rubbish. There is people with good and bad eyesight and good and bad motor skills, the former can often be adjusted for, the latter learnt.

Good anything is blood, sweat, tears and dedicated hard work - mixed with inspiration and ingenuity.

Tim has demonstrated this amply and I commend him for putting another nail in the coffin of the demeaning term that is 'Talent'

3DBob

spherical
12-03-2013, 03:57 PM
Agreed on the "Talent" issue as regards hard work; although there are concepts like predisposition, aptitude and basically whether your brain is "wired like that" that, summed up, become called "talent". I like and appreciate music, have a lot of it in a wide plethora of genre, but I don't "think" in it. I have a cello and it is still winning the battle as far as who is playing whom. I know that If I had enough reason, I could better apply myself and become good at playing it. My SO plays the violin, cello, clarinet, oboe and coronet. Vastly differing instruments. So, her aptitude, predisposition and brain wiring allow her to understand and be comfortable in music, while I struggle. Then, of course, there are child prodigies who write music when they can still count their age on their fingers.

papou
12-03-2013, 04:16 PM
NewTek founder "Solves" Vermeer's technique

...that's awesome! Now, let's fix the lack of undo, Modeler tools, VPR, and few other modern inventions (haha):devil:

S

whahaha

Ernest
12-04-2013, 12:31 AM
There is no such thing as talent

Of course there is such a thing as talent! Magnus Carlsen wasn't destroying International Masters at 13 because none of them put in the 4 hours per day of training that he did. On the contrary, since they didn't have to go to school or play in the football team like him, those IMs dedicated most of the day to training and had been doing so for decades and still that kid slaughtered them consistently (and continues to do so to this day). Capablanca refused to put in the effort to train his body and his concentration and he was still unbeatable until someone as talented as Alekhine and who did train hard appeared. You think that no basketball player in all the history of the sport had ever trained nearly as much as Jordan? Garrincha stayed practicing over 2 hours after Pele and the rest of the team finished training and he was still no Pele (though I don't think anyone would complain about being a Garrincha). Rudy was able to play with the Notre Dame football team and that is a huge accomplishment for anyone, but he didn't become the greatest player in the history of the NFL.

Still, talent without effort is nothing; effort without any talent is still something.

bazsa73
12-04-2013, 01:29 AM
Nice stuff spherical! I love the astronaut on the moon.

spherical
12-04-2013, 02:24 AM
Nice stuff spherical! I love the astronaut on the moon.

Thank You. It was painted for the US Bicentennial. Chronologically, at that point, flight had taken us to the Moon. It seemed a fitting tribute to have the Wright Flyer soaring over its surface (surrealistically atmosphereless or not) and a space colony representing our future; all touching Earth.

JoePoe
12-04-2013, 01:27 PM
I'm wondering if this finding can be further verified by some sort of scan of Vermeer's canvases.
I have seen documentaries on other painters where under paintings and reworked layers have been revealed.
Unless Vermeer's "real" genius was mixing paint, the trial and error of finding just the right hue and value in order to make the lens edge disappear seems like it would be evident.

spherical
12-04-2013, 03:09 PM
Unless he did what I would do; make the adjustments on a test piece and when finalized, commit to the original and not risk screwing up.

Zane Condren
12-04-2013, 04:25 PM
Tim's Vermeer has actually made the short list for an Oscar Nomination. See http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/goldstandard/la-et-mn-oscar-documentary-short-list-20131203,0,40560.story#axzz2mYAcRYMs

greg.reyna
01-12-2014, 11:35 PM
Teller (of Penn & Teller) who directed 'Tim's Vermeer' was interviewed by Elvis Mitchell the other day on The Treatment.

http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tt/tt131211teller_tims_vermeer

mummyman
01-13-2014, 08:34 AM
Anyone know when it's available on DVD or streaming? Looking forward to seeing this. Thanks for the posts..

GregMalick
01-16-2014, 05:58 PM
I'm wondering if this finding can be further verified by some sort of scan of Vermeer's canvases.
I have seen documentaries on other painters where under paintings and reworked layers have been revealed.
Unless Vermeer's "real" genius was mixing paint, the trial and error of finding just the right hue and value in order to make the lens edge disappear seems like it would be evident.

David Hockney's Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of Old Masters is fabulous.
i bought it a couple years a go and he exhaustively looks at a myriad of artists.
Some of the most telling stuff is the mistakes made when a model takes a break and the pose isn't exactly the same.

I highly recommend that book for those who want a better understanding of the process and evidence that this was used for centuries to make great art.

ianr
01-17-2014, 10:01 AM
Yeah! 80 mins run time. Well done 2 Tim

bobakabob
01-18-2014, 03:29 AM
David Hockney's Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of Old Masters is fabulous.
i bought it a couple years a go and he exhaustively looks at a myriad of artists.
Some of the most telling stuff is the mistakes made when a model takes a break and the pose isn't exactly the same.

I highly recommend that book for those who want a better understanding of the process and evidence that this was used for centuries to make great art.

Agree, fascinating book. He got lots of flak from traditionalist critics but Hockney really knows his stuff. His freehand pen and ink portraits are incredible. I'm lucky enough to live near Saltaire UK where Salts Mill is like a shrine to his work.

meatycheesyboy
01-20-2014, 01:52 PM
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tims_vermeer_2014/

93% on Rotten Tomatoes

raw-m
02-21-2014, 01:32 PM
Just seen the trailer for this, looks really interesting. At about 1:09 in it looks like he is using the f9 rendered image editor's fg/bg thing to compare his set with an image, but it appears to be happening as a background image within Layout. Anyone know how to do that?

allabulle
02-22-2014, 06:44 AM
The easiest way may be setting the image as the Background Image in the Effects>Compositing panel (Ctrl+F7). You'll probably have to compensate for the aspect ratio of the image before if the image don't match you Layout camera's but that aside it's pretty straightforward.

Rayek
02-25-2014, 05:42 PM
I finally got the chance to go see it here in Vancouver. It was immensely interesting, and quite convincing. To me two things really stand out in favour of some sort of optics used by Vermeer to capture the light in (most) of his paintings (not all of them - there seems to be an evolution in his work).

For one, at some point during the "recreation" of the Music Lesson, Tim finds a flaw in Vermeer's work that can only really be attributed to the use of optics: in the seahorse patterns on the virginal the pattern follows a slight curvature - something Tim noticed these flaws in his own experiment when he begun to paint the straight lines of said music instrument, and had to compensate for the curvature caused by the optics he used. I checked this with a high resolution image in an image editor, and yes, when the paintings horizontals are "crunched", not only does the pattern show a distinct curvature, so do the other lines below. Other lines seem to be strangely wobbly as well. Others are dead on straight - which makes me think Vermeer probably used different methods to create his work.

I found similar slightly curved lines in other works of Vermeer as well (for example, in "De schilderkonst"). In that painting wobbly lines do hardly occur, making me hypothesize that Vermeer continued to improve on the methods he applied in his work.

And of course, there is the elephant in the room: a human's vision is incapable of seeing absolute tones - which are present in Vermeer's work (though not in all of his work).

Another hint of titillating circumstantial evidence is Vermeer's relationship with Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and their shared interest/obsession with lenses and optical mechanisms. Although there is no hard evidence of a real relationship between the two, they both grew up in the same city of Delft, shared the same interests for optics, maps, and so on, and Vermeer focused mainly on indoor scenes where he could control the light better, and work on a piece for a long time (as indicated by the fact he only produced about 36 painting in his entire career, where other painters produced hundreds).

Opinionated rants like this one (the only response so far from the critics) only serve to obfuscate rather than enlighten:
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/jan/28/tims-vermeer-fails


Was Vermeer a one-trick pony? No, definitely not. The man was a brilliant artist and painter, and probably used his knowledge of optics to improve his work, and "paint with light" - to enable him to go beyond the limits of human vision (and he probably was acutely aware of its limitations). That is why his work stands out, and the light looks different from any of his peers that went before him or came after him. And that makes him a genius: combining art and technology in such a manner.

Steadman's and Jenison's research demystify, and also heighten the stature and intellect of Vermeer as an artist. They do not degrade it, quite the opposite in my opinion. They push Vermeer's art and vision to a new dimension indeed, and only strengthen our respect of Vermeer as an actual person.

Rayek
02-25-2014, 06:18 PM
Btw, while I was studying Vermeer's paintings in more detail, I think I may have solved the question whether Jan Verkolje's van Leeuwenhoek portrays the same man as in Vermeer's "Astronomer" and "Geographer" both painted in 1769.

Compare the three:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Jan_Verkolje_-_Antonie_van_Leeuwenhoek.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Johannes_Vermeer_-_The_Astronomer_-_WGA24685.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/The_Geographer.jpg

Notice the smoking gun in all three? The globe. It's identical. It most probably was van Leeuwenhoeks's, and it is almost obvious to me he insisted on having that particular object to be in the paintings he commissioned.

Aside from that the nose, mouth, chin, and shoulders seems to match as well. Verkolje's painting looks less well executed - he drew the face with wrong proportions.

What do you guys think?

mummyman
03-10-2014, 12:04 PM
I just was able to view the movie this weekend... It was pretty darn cool. Tim has some crazy dedication!!!!

Mr Rid
03-10-2014, 11:00 PM
http://library.creativecow.net/wilson_tim/Tims-Vermeer_documentary/1