CinePaint  1.4.4
About: CinePaint is a motion picture editing tool primarily used for painting and retouching of movie images (was "filmgimp").
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CinePaint Documentation

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By, revised 2020/11/20


CinePaint is a deep paint image retouching tool that supports higher color fidelity than ordinary painting tools. CinePaint opens popular image formats such as JPEG and PNG. CinePaint opens exotic image file formats such as DPX, 16-bit TIFF, and OpenEXR. CinePaint has features comparable to other raster-based paint programs that draw images and manipulate photos.

CinePaint was created by the Hollywood film industry for retouching motion pictures frame-by-frame. Used in making the HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS films.


Motion Picture Academy

HDR Deep Paint

Pro deep paint tools, such as CinePaint and Adobe Photoshop, offer additional capabilities. Support for HDR, that is, high Dynamic Ranged. HDR image formats that are 8, 16 or 32 bits per channel deep. One RGBA 32-bit pixel contains 128 bits (4x32). Images common on the Internet are 8-bit. Motion picture film and digital cinema projectors are capable of displaying greater color fidelity. HDR is used for making major motion pictures, in high fashion photography and among pro photographers making art gallery prints. Also, in B&W pro photography due to there only being one channel of image data.


CinePaint goes beyond other pro paint tools in that it contains a flipbook. The flipbook handles playback of a numbered series of images as a movie. Using a flipbook interface to advance through images is how motion picture frame-by-frame retouching by hand is done rapidly. The flipbook has onion-skinning, where the current frame can be semi-transparent so the previous frame bleeds through and can be referenced or traced from.


CinePaint version 1.4 runs on Windows and is in QA. A lot has been happening with the CinePaint 1.x codebase. A new cmake build system, taking over maintaining GTK1, and fixing lots of legacy bugs. Version 1.4 has been years in the making, a huge code clean-up. Linux, FreeBSD and MacOS versions are coming next. Doing the hardest first, that is, building on Windows using a Linux codebase. CinePaint1 uses GTK1, which CinePaint is maintaining although it is quite old. Expect CinePaint 1.4 release Xmas 2020 or sooner.

CinePaint version 2.0 was running before but not entirely complete. Currently broken pending cmake build system improvements. Rather than migrating to a newer version of GTK, CinePaint2 uses FLTK.


There are two versions of Cinepaint. Both are being actively developed.

CinePaint1 (Hollywood) forked from CinePaint in 2000. It is a GTK1-based C application. CinePaint1 was originally created for Linux then ported to Windows and other operating systems. Version 1.4 currently runs only on Windows 32-bit. The Linux, FreeBSD, MacOS and 64-bit versions are coming soon.

CinePaint2 (Glasgow) is a rewrite that was funded by an EU research grant, implemented at the University of Glasgow. It is an FLTK-based C++ app. CinePaint2 runs but is not complete. Releasing next after version 1.4.

Film Industry History

CinePaint was used in making the HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS films and many others. The Linux version of CinePaint1 was created by the film industry, both with in-house developers and by funding CinePaint project maintainers. Robin Rowe created the port for Windows. A student created the MacOS port before getting a job at Apple.

The film industry started CinePaint1 development in 1998. Silicon Grail, later acquired by Apple, and motion picture studio Rhythm & Hues led the development. Their goal was to create a deep paint alternative to the recently discontined SGI IRIX version of Adobe Photoshop to run on the emerging Linux studio platform. Although continuously in use in the film industry, CinePaint was not well known in the open source community. CinePaint was used in making THE LAST SAMURAI and TOO FAST, TOO FURIOUS.

Robin Rowe, a columnist at Linux Journal, encountered CinePaint while writing an article about Linux being used at Rhythm & Hues. Robin observed CinePaint in the wild, being used the studio in making the film SCOOBY-DOO. There's a scene in the film where the cartoon character Scooby-Doo has to run behind columns in a live action scene in a warehouse. The filmmakers were rotoscoping out Scooby-Doo frame by frame, whenever the animation layer character passed in front of an object that Scooby-Doo should have passed behind.

After the article was published, LJ readers wrote asking for the source code and then started sending back patches. CinePaint had no project website.

On July 4th, 2002, Robin Rowe released CinePaint as a SourceForge project and became project leader. RnH had used CinePaint on STUART LITTLE and Sony was using CinePaint to make the sequel. Sony contributed a number of patches and provided an employee as part-time release manager for a year to help. ILM contributed the OpenEXR plugin they created for CinePaint.

The legacy Linux/automake build system made maintaining CinePaint increasingly difficult. Making any small change could result in hours of build time. Eventually, CinePaint wouldn't build on any operating system reliably. Robin Rowe created a new cmake CinePaint build system to solve that. Also created Cmaker, a build automation system that writes cmake files, plus C++ code frameworks and unit tests.

The CinePaint source code uses Linux APIs. For Windows it uses the open source libunistd library, created by Robin Rowe. Libunistd is a Windows implementation of the POSIX BSD and System V library calls. Used to compile Linux-based C/C++ code on Windows without visible Windows APIs.



$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ cmake .. -A Win32

Open sln file in Visual Studio and build. Plugins require zlib, jpeg, png, tiff and openexr libraries. Windows build requires libunistd.


CinePaint website has not been updated yet. Is outdated. Working on it.

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Twitter: @cinepaint

Robin Rowe CinePaint Project Manager Beverly Hills, California 323-535-0952