The Emotions of Life Collide in ‘Beauty’

Animator Rino Stefano Tagliafierro tackles the emotions evoked by classic art in his new animated short film.

Take a selection of classic, centuries old paintings, captured moments of great beauty, and bring them to life, ever so gently so as not to disturb or somehow cheapen the emotions they evoke. That’s exactly what Rino Stefano Tagliafierro did in his new short film, Beauty.

Through the use of modern digital tools, Rino lifts from the immobility of the canvas the expressive force behind the original subjects.

He shared some thoughts about his film.

Dan Sarto: How did the project come about? What was your inspiration?

Rino Stefano Tagliafierro: Beauty was born by the challenge to describe the most important emotions that everyone can feel in their life, from birth to death, through fear, sexuality, pain and love. Classical art for me has always been the best way to visualize this kind of feeling.

In my work there is always a lot of research on bodies, especially their transformation and movement. I always try to give life to something inanimate or to give it new movement that is alive, both in shooting and post production.

I still remember my first encounter with the works of Dali that have profoundly marked my entire career. In film, the director who first caught my imagination was David Lynch and his films Twin Peaks and Ereaserhead.

Beauty, being such a personal project is entirely self-financed. I worked diligently with passion and perseverance in my spare time, on weekends and at nights.

DS: How long did Beauty take to make?

RST: It took me about five months, excluding the research phase.

DS: Your film has 118 classical images.  By what criteria did you make your selections?

RST: First I collected a large number of classical art masterpieces. Then I selected the pieces that best represented human emotions. As main artists, I choose Caravaggio and William-Adolph Bouguereau because their figure art fit very well with the atmosphere I had in my mind and wanted to capture.

Then I started researching. I found a huge number of pieces from other similar artists. Finally I selected 118 paintings.

DS: Describe your creative process. What tools did you use on this film?

RST: Technically, first I processed each individual piece of art in Photoshop using the "digital cut-out" technique.  I cropped all the elements out of the background and then redesigned the hidden parts. I animated with After Effects. As far as the story and selection of paintings, I was helped by the romance between Carlotta Balestrieri [2nd Assistant Director] and Laila Sonsino [Assistant Director]. When I finished editing, I commissioned sound designer Enrico Ascoli to handle the music and he perfectly understood what I had in my mind. Finally Giuliano Corti helped me in finding the wonderful opening words taken from Shakespeare's Sonnet 19, which introduce the spirit of the video.

DS: What were the biggest challenges you faced making this film?

RST: The main difficulty I encountered while animating was making sure not to overdo it with the movements and to avoid abuse of the art. It was important to give the characters simple and essential gestures. A masterpiece of art is unreachable and cannot be improved because it is already so perfect. Beauty has used art to create something different, not better. Is a tribute to art, the absolute respect of its magnificence.

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.

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