Virtual Dylan Thomas in the News

Western Mail - Saturday 18 May 2005

90-second clip brings 'virtual Dylan' back to life on film

Poet reads his own work on the big screen thanks to 3D feature

Karen Price - Arts Correspondent - Western Mail

It looks like Dylan Thomas, moves like him and it sounds like him too - the famous writer is to be brought back to life for the big screen.
He died more than 50 years ago but this new 3D film features the Swansea-born writer reading on of his poems. It will be premiered at the Edinburgh festival this summer as part of a stage production. And it is hoped the 90-second film clip will later be screened in New York, where Dylan died in 1953.
A virtual head of Dylan is being constructed by Swansea 3D animation company iCreate ltd using a scan of his death mask and photographs taken at the time of his death.
And as there are not believed to be any existing film clips of Dylan, impersonator Bob Kingdom will today be filmed at the Dylan Tomas centre in the guise of the Under Milk Wood creator.
The facial movements of Kingdom, who has performed as the poet around the world, will then be synchronised in time with a recording of the real Dylan reading his famous work, Do not go gentle in to that good night.
The result will be a "Lord of the rings-style" piece, which will be launched at the Edinburgh festival on august 5th. It will be incorporated into Swansea-based Old Grabo Productions' one-man play, Dylan in America.
The project is the idea of Dylan fan Bernard Mitchell, a mature art student in Swansea.
Bernard hopes it will also be screened in New York and he will include the film in a London exhibition by students of Swansea School of Art, where he is taking a masters degree in photography.
The 57-year old has been a fan of Dylan for most of his life. During the '60s he photographed the writer's famous friends, including Ceri Richards, Alfred Janes and Vernon Watkins, who were collectively known as the Kardomah Boys.
"The only member of the group missing was Dylan as he died when I was six," said Bernard. "Over the years I developed this sort of obsession because Dylan was missing from the group.
"So during the two years I've been doing my masters degree I've been looking at what I could do using new technology."
Bernard came up with the idea of developing a virtual 3D head.
The voice recording of Dylan which will be used in the film was made in New York just before his death.
"He was the first writer to record his own voice reading his won work," said Bernard. "Now I'm aiming to create the first virtual DVD of Dylan.
"It's not the first time it's been done but in the past people have been able to use film clips of those they have been trying to recreate in 3D. But there are no moving images of Dylan."
Bernard has even launched his own company to work on the project, known as Bvirtual. And in the future he hopes to expand the work.
"This film clip only features Dylan's virtual head but in the future we would like to make a film which also includes his virtual body.
"And maybe we can do a longer film of him reading a collection of poems in Swansea or Laugharne."
Bernard has already received support from several businesses and organisations, including the Welsh Development Agency and Swansea council, but he is looking for further assistance.

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Copyright: iCreate Ltd and Bvirtual Ltd 2005
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