The Toaster and Tim's Vermeer

Creative COW by Tim Wilson

When I heard about the documentary "Tim's Vermeer" at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival, it sounded kind of interesting. Here's the description from the festival program:

Any good mystery begins with a series of unanswered questions that get under the skin. In the case of Tim's Vermeer, the fascinating and quirky documentary by magician team Penn (who produces and talks) and Teller (who directs and stays mum), the questions piled up fast when Tim Jenison, a rather obsessive inventor friend from San Antonio described his current fixation with the 17th-century Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer: "How did Vermeer paint with a photo-realistic detail that seems practically impossible to render with the human eye?"

What if, in fact, Vermeer didn't really paint his paintings from his mind's eye, but copied them from an optical contraption that projected images onto a wall? If this were true, wouldn't it be possible for someone with no painting expertise to duplicate this technique and produce a work of "art" just as effectively as Vermeer?

What if Tim was just crazy enough to tackle this experiment? What if Penn & Teller captured this whole cockamamie enterprise on film and called it Tim's Vermeer? On second thought, it's too farfetched. Never mind. Don't go see this movie.

Duplicating a Vermeer, Penn & Teller, a witty catalog description, a maniac named Tim: this combination was a no-brainer.

But wait. This "rather obsessive inventor friend" Tim isn't just any obsessive inventor. He's one of the most important figures in the desktop video revolution. You may not know his name, but you know the name of his most famous invention.

The NewTek Video Toaster.

Calling the Toaster the first shot in the desktop video revolution is an understatement. The Video Toaster added high quality, high performance video cards to an Amiga personal computer, and a software suite that included LightWave 3D. There had never been this combination of video and graphics power in one place, at any price -- and it happened that the price was incredibly cheap, only $2399. read more...

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