Tim’s Vermeer (a J!-eNT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 8, 2014 by  


“Tim’s Vermeer is a fascinating and entertaining film in which one brilliant man uses his skills to replicate Johannes Vermeer’s amazing skill with light and to show that possibly, Vermeer may have been using technology to help him achieve such realism.  A wonderful documentary from Penn and Teller!

Images courtesy of © 2013 High Delft Pictures LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tim’s Vermeer


DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG-13 (Some Strong Language)

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Directed by Teller

Produced by Pen Jillette, Farley Ziegler

Executive Producer: Glenn S. Alai, Peter Adam Golden, Tim Jenison, Teller

Music by Conrad Pope

Cinematography by Shane F. Kelly

Edited by Patrick Sheffield


Colin Blakemore

David Hockney

Tim Jenison

Penn Jillette

Martin Mull

Philip Steadman


Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did Dutch master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically 150 years before the invention of photography? Spanning a decade, Jenison’s adventure takes him to Holland, on a pilgrimage to the North coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney, and eventually even to Buckingham Palace. The epic research project Jenison embarks on is as extraordinary as what he discovers.

Tim Jenison may not be a well-known name but for those who are familiar with 3D software, especially “Lightwave 3D”, Jenison’s company NewTek, Inc. is well-known for its products .

From VideoToaster to creating DigiPaint for the old Commodore Amiga, Jenison has received the title of “Father of Desktop Video” (from the San Antonio Inventors Hall of Fame) but it’s that technical mind that has led to a new documentary film from comedians Teller and Penn Jillette.   Teller narrates the film, while Penn directs the film with the help of producer Farley Ziegler.

For Tim Jenison, he has been a man appreciative of art and having worked in the video games and video industry, he is very knowledgeable about light and lenses.  And because of that appreciation for art, especially in the work of  Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer, an artist who was able to create his lifelike photos with precision, especially when it came to lighting, Jenison had a theory.

Because mirrors were used during that period of time, what if Johannes Vermeer was able to utilize this technology in order to paint?

What makes things difficult about Johannes Vermeer is that there is not many documentation about his work, only his paintings.  Partly due because for several centuries, his work was not acknowledged until the 19th century and is now considered one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Not an artist, Jenison took it upon himself to design various lenses and see if he can reproduce various pieces of art by painting his father and then taking it to other people, including those who have written about Vermeer’s art and show him his theory.

But of course, in order to fully test out his theory of Vermeer, he would need to paint and try to duplicate the work of Vermeer using technology that Jenison believes was used at the time and was utilized by Vermeer.

And through several painstaking years, Jenison who is not a painter, will learn from his discoveries whether or not his theory of the painting techniques of Johannes Vermeer were true.



“Tim’s Vermeer” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The film was shot digitally and overall colors are very good.  Closeups of Tim’s Vermeer paintings show great detail and for the most part, I didn’t detect any problems with video quality.  No banding, artifacts, etc.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.


“Tim’s Vermeer” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  As a documentary, this is a dialogue-driven film and dialogue is crystal clear.


“Tim’s Vermeer” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary from director Pen Jillette, Teller, Tim Jenison and Farly Ziegler.
  • Toronto International Film Festival Q&A – (21:21) A post-screening Q&A at TIFF featuring Pen Jillette, Teller, Tim Jenison and Farly Ziegler.
  • Deleted Scenes – (22:45) A total of six deleted scenes.
  • Extended and Alternate Scenes – (2:18:13) Featuring over two hours of five extended and alternate scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:05) Theatrical trailer for “Tim’s Vermeer”.


“Tim’s Vermeer” comes both with a Blu-ray and DVD copy of the film.


There is no doubt that “Tim’s Vermeer” is a documentary that will fascinate and entertain many audiences, especially those who are familiar with Vermeer’s work.  But at the same time, may incite some controversy because the brilliant technology and business owner, Tim Jenison is pretty much showing people that Vermeer’s lighting in his paintings were done using technology.

Of course, art can be appreciated by any person and interpreted their own personal way.  If one is to use Adobe Photoshop for their artwork, does it make their work any less impressive?  Would it be considered as cheating in order to accomplish a desired look.

Some will say no, others may say yes.

And of course, Jenison’s observations and discoveries are very fascinating to the point that it makes you wonder if Jenison’s theory may hurt the work of Vermeer?  I personally think that this is not the case.

Reason being is that Vermeer created these paintings back in the 1600’s and other painters utilized some sort of creativity in order to capture settings and people in his paintings.

And before anyone can say, “it’s not possible”, both Teller and Penn Jillette  with the reproduction work created by Tim Jenison, were able to tap into observations that can only mean that lenses and mirrors may have been utilized.

The film is simple to understand and follow, especially by the film’s second half as we watch the progress of Tim Jenison and see for ourselves how he is able to paint using a lens with great efficacy.  Teller’s narration helped make the film more fun but also doing a great job in setting up each scene.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good as one can expect from a documentary shot digitally.  If anything, colors are pleasing, close-ups show great detail and the film looks very good in HD.  Lossless audio is not immersive, considering the film is dialogue-driven.  But there are many special features which include an audio commentary, film festival Q&A, deleted scenes and its extended scenes which are over two hours long.

Overall, “Tim’s Vermeer is a fascinating and entertaining film in which one brilliant man uses his skills to replicate Johannes Vermeer’s amazing skill with light and to show that possibly, Vermeer may have been using technology to help him achieve such realism.  A wonderful documentary from Penn and Teller!

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