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High-tech revives ancient painting in China Pavilion
    2010-05-19 11:49:48     CRIENGLISH.com

The highlight of the China Pavilion at Shanghai Expo is the animated scroll of the ancient painting Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival".

With the help of high technology, every person and animal in the scroll is either moving or talking, as if a magic spell had been cast over them. Yingying talked to one of the people involved in this magic C the animations Chief Creator Yu Zheng. Lets follow Yingying to discover more.

Visitors from home and abroad are amazed by the animated version of "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" in the history section of the China Pavilion.

"Im so shocked. The audio and visual effects make me feel as if I am in the painting myself."

"I think many people have heard of the painting Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival, but very few have actually ever seen it, let alone seen such a huge animated version like this."

"Its a great breakthrough to depict such a famous painting with modern technologies."

The animated scroll is thirty times bigger than the original painting. It stands 6.3 meters-high and is 130 meters-long. The scenes give a full and vivid presentation of the daily life of common folks during the heyday of the Song Dynasty -- that is about 1000 years ago.

You can see vendors selling products on the streets, boatmen sailing along rivers and imperial officials being carried around in sedan-chairs. If you get closer, you can even hear their conversations and the noise of the streets.

It took two years for a team of 70 people to complete the production. Yu Zheng, Chief Creator of the team, explains the "magic" they created with this scroll.

"Actually, the principle is simple. We use 12 projectors running simultaneously to project animation on the wall. But the biggest challenge is how to avoid the edges between different images. We solved the problem by using software that we designed ourselves."

The painting features more than 1000 people; every single person is unique to look at and they also have their own actions. Yu Zheng says the aim is to bring the original work to life by showing audiences what they cannot see in the 12th century painting.

"People will never see characters moving in the original painting. And the original work is pretty small; you cant see every detail clearly, so we magnified the image and added more people to it. We also depict the night scenes by adding some lighting in the picture. The 4-minute-long animation is split up equally into daytime and nighttime."

The original "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" was created in the Northern Song Dynasty by Zhang Zeduan. It shows the bustling scene of Bianliang, the capital city at that time. Located in Henan Province, Bianliang is now known as Kaifeng. It was the political and economic heart of the country then.

To represent the life of the distant past, Yu Zheng took his team to Henan Province for research and inspiration.

"The people in the original painting are tiny -- only two to three centimeters high. And, they were painted on silk, which is delicate, thus the image is veiled and foggy. So we went to Kaifeng, the former site of Bianliang to do our research. We also talked with experts who helped us analyze the original painting."

The Song Dynasty was a time of great social and economic change. Its urbanization rate was the highest in ancient China. Yu Zheng believes, "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" is the most representative work of urban life in ancient China. The animated scroll that is being exhibited at Shanghai Expo coincides with the China Pavilions aim to display various phases of Chinas urban construction and development.

"The section in the China Pavilion where "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" is being shown focuses on ancient Chinese wisdom of urban construction. We also depict eight ancient stories in the painting. Visitors can see a prosperous ancient city and feel the day-to-day life of its citizens." 

Yu Zheng says after the expo, they hope to take the animated scroll on the road -- around China and throughout the world. Next, his team plans to bring to life all of China's 10 famous paintings C turning them into animated scrolls.

For CRI, I'm Yingying.

The original scroll of "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" is very famous in China. It is about five meter long and many people call it China's Mona Lisa. And in another exhibition room in the China Pavilion, you can see a famous reproduction of the original one. It is also a valuable national treasure. If you go to visit the pavilion, you shouldn't miss out.



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