Computer image breathes new life into Dylan Thomas

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The Independent Online

No film footage of the poet has existed since the 1950s, when the BBC destroyed archive material. But using computer-generated imagery based on Thomas's death mask, a team in his hometown of Swansea has created a three-dimensional animation of the poet for theSt David's celebrations in New York next year.

In the three-minute film, which premiered at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea yesterday, Thomas is seen as he might have looked shortly before his death in 1953 reading "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night".

Photographer Bernard Mitchell and animation firm iCreate used photographs of the poet to create the moving image to accompany the sound track recorded in New York in 1952. An actor, Bob Kingdom, was also employed to recreate Thomas's facial movements and to lip-syncthe words.

"It's uncannily like him. People imagine they have seen him move, because they have seen quite a lot of still photos, but they haven't. It's quite spooky," Mr Mitchell said.

Thomas's daughter, Aeronwy, who saw the film shortly before it was unveiled, described it as a "tour de force".

The film will be polished up further before being shown in New York early next year, but there are already plans to make a longer film.

"It's Madame Tussauds for the 21st century. We'd love to bring back other historical figures," iCreate's managing director, Dawn Lyle, said.