The Animators Who’ve Spent 40 Years on a Single Film

Jul 6, 2023 | Art, Videos

The legendary Russian animators Yuri Norstein and Francheska Yarbusova have been working on their magnum opus, an animated feature film called ‘The Overcoat’, for the past four decades. This movie has become a legend due to its two creators, who are universally considered to be the greatest animators of all time.

Yuri and Francheska met in 1967 and began work at the Soviet state-run animation studio Soyuzmultfilm. Here they developed their unique cut-out animation technique, which involves hand drawing figures before cutting them out and puppeteering them between shots. They also used layers of glass panes with a camera rigged on top to create the different layers of each shot, creating seamless hyper-realistic animated sequences.

The couple’s creative process is driven by an incredible attention to detail; Yuri serves as the director, cinematographer and animator while Francheska hand draws everything from backgrounds to characters’ movements. As a result of this level of detail and meticulousness, progress has been slow – hence why it holds the longest production period for any animated feature film in history!

Despite this slow progress, ‘The Overcoat’ is already highly anticipated; Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park has even offered his support in helping them finish it. Although Yuri and Francheska are now both in their 80s and there is no release date in sight as yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate their passion or commitment to finishing what they started all those years ago.

For anyone interested in animation or film making more generally, ‘The Overcoat’ offers an unparalleled masterpiece that should not be missed once it finally reaches completion. It promises a rare insight into the creative process behind two of the most respected animators of all time – making it worth waiting for!

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David B