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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 07:23 GMT
Curtain rises on 'virtual' Dylan
Dylan Thomas, picture courtesy of iCreate Ltd and Bvirtual
The film of Dylan Thomas speaking lasts one and a half minutes
A computer-generated Dylan Thomas reading one of the poet's most famous works is due to be launched in Swansea.

A 3D film version of Thomas, recreated from his death mask, old photographs and voice recordings will read Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

No moving film footage of the poet, who died in New York in 1953, is believed to have survived.

Photographer Bernard Mitchell and Swansea animation firm iCreate are behind the project.

It's a bit of a relief to see it launched
Bernard Mitchell, photographer

The recording of Thomas reciting the poem used in the short film was made on 22 February, 1952.

Fifty-two years after his death in New York, the new animated film, complete with a 16-minute documentary about its making, will be shown at Swansea's Dylan Thomas Centre on Wednesday.

The screening, at 1730 GMT, will take place before an invited audience including animation experts and followers of the Dylan Thomas festival.

Dylan Thomas, picture courtesy of iCreate Ltd and Bvirtual.
Experts used computer graphics after studying the death mask

Dylan Thomas's daughter Aeronwy will not be there but she has described it as a "tour de force".

Bernard Mitchell said the project has been a labour of love but also a complex and technical operation.

"It's a bit of a relief to see it launched," said Mr Mitchell.

"We haven't decided exactly what we are going to do with it.

"We may market a DVD which has the documentary and the reading, but to be honest for it to be a commercial thing we need more material - maybe a short story as well to make it an hour's length."

The 2,600-plus frames of Dylan Thomas reading the poem have taken countless hours of production.

A flattened version of the model, picture courtesy of iCreate Ltd and Bvirtual.
Making the skin look life-like meant 10 layers were added

No real-life film is known to exist of the poet performing his works.

Recreating the way skin moves over muscle and lip-synchronisation challenged the team from iCreate.

"We had to animate inside the mouth and each hair had to be grown," said Mr Mitchell.

The team had to use a wide range of media to recreate the poet - his death mask and picture research were used as well as footage of an actor, called Bob Kingdom, reading Thomas' work.

"We were trying to get it finished for 9 November - the anniversary of his death," said Mr Mitchell.

The photographer said more work might take place on the 3D film before it is taken to New York to be screened.

"We have only got his voice unless you can remember the films (which were destroyed in the 1960s) and he wasn't particularly reading his poetry in those - there's isn't any film of him," said Mr Mitchell.

Dawn Lyle, managing director of iCreate and co-producer of Virtual Dylan, said: "We are really excited about the potential of the project. It's Madame Tussauds for the 21st century."

She added the compelling images could spark the imaginations of others who would want to see figures from the past brought back to virtual life.

See the computer-generated Dylan Thomas reading his poetry

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