Zbigniew Rybczyński

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Zbigniew Rybczyński
Zbigniew Rybczyńsk at The Cinefamily.jpg
Born (1949-01-27) 27 January 1949 (age 70)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Short Film
1982 Tango
Polish Film Festival
1975 Zupa
Cannes Film Festival
1987 Imagine

Zbigniew Rybczyński (Polish: [ˈzbiɡɲɛf rɨpˈtʂɨj̃skʲi]; born 27 January 1949) is a Polish filmmaker, director, cinematographer, screenwriter, creator of experimental animated films and multimedia artist who has won numerous prestigious industry awards both in the United States and internationally including the 1982 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Tango.

He has taught cinematography and digital cinematography, and has worked as a researcher of blue and greenscreen compositing technology at Ultimatte Corporation. He is renowned for his innovative audiovisual techniques and for his pioneering experimentation in the field of new image technology.

In March 2009 Rybczyński returned to Poland, taking up residence in Wrocław, where he has set up the Center for Audiovisual Technologies (CeTA) at the site of the city's historic Feature Film Studio. The center, which officially opened in January 2013, includes a state-of-the-art studio designed by Rybczyński for the production of multi-layer film images, and an institute for research into images and visual technologies.

After Rybczynski discovered and published huge corruption in CeTA, they fired him and subsequently he declared the renunciation of his Polish citizenship.[1][2]

Early life and career[edit]

Rybczyński was born in Łódź, Poland. He grew up in Warsaw, where he attended a secondary-level art school and then worked briefly at the |Studio Miniatur Filmowych (1968-1969). He studied cinematography at the Łódź Film School (1969-1973); his thesis films were Take Five and Plamuz. During his studies he became a founding member of the Film Form Workshop (Warsztat Formy Filmowej), the most important Polish neo-avantgarde group. He also honed his film-making skills working as a cinematographer for young directors like Andrzej Barański, Piotr Andrejew, Wojciech Wiszniewski and Filip Bajon on shorts, documentaries and educational films, and on Grzegorz Królikiewicz's feature-length The Dancing Hawk (Tańczący Jastrząb). His films from the period include: The Talk (Rozmowa- TV) and Gropingly (Po Omacku) by Andrejew, Videocassette (Wideokaseta) by Bajon, and Wanda Gościmińska włókniarka by Wiszniewski. From 1973 to 1980 Rybczyński made his own films at the Se-Ma-For Studio in Łódź. He established the Dr. Stanzl special effects studio in Vienna for the Austrian public TV station ORF, and worked there from 1977 to 1980. During the political unrest in Poland in 1980 he was the head of the founders' committee of the Se-Ma-For studio branch of Solidarity.

Emigration to the United States[edit]

In 1982, during the martial law period, he managed to arrange a job contract that enabled him to leave Poland for Vienna, where he applied for political asylum. The following year he and his family emigrated to the US, where they lived in Los Angeles and then New York. The first works he made in the US were the short experimental videos The Day Before and The Discreet Charm of the Diplomacy, both made in 1984 on a commission from NBC TV's The New Show. In 1985 he launched his own studio – ZBIG VISION – in New York, which he subsequently outfitted with the latest video, computer and HDTV technology. It was in this studio that he made his most important American films, including Steps (1987), The Fourth Dimension (1988), The Orchestra (1990), Manhattan (1991) and Kafka (1992), which were showered with enthusiastic critical acclaim and numerous awards. In the US he also made short music-based pieces that added to his popularity and acclaim. Between 1984 and 1989 he made more than 30 music videos for such artists as Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed, Simple Minds, Cameo, The Art of Noise, Chuck Mangione, Pet Shop Boys, Lady Pank, The Alan Parsons Project, Supertramp and Rush. One of them – Imagine (1986), made for John Lennon's composition – was the first music video ever made using high-definition technology.

In 1994 Rybczyński moved to Germany, where he co-founded the Centrum Für Neue Bildgestaltung, an experimental film center in Berlin, and later worked in Cologne. He returned to Los Angeles in 2001, where he worked for the Ultimatte Corporation and continued his research in the area where art, science and digital technology intersect working out new standards for moving images. Among the results of Rybczyński's long-term research and experimentation are his inventions in the field of electronic-image technology, for which he holds several US patents, and which are widely used in the film and TV industries.

In March 2009 Rybczyński returned to Poland, taking up residence in Wrocław, where he has set up the Center for Audiovisual Technologies (CeTa) at the site of the city's historic Feature Film Studio. The center, which officially opened in January 2013, includes a state-of-the-art studio designed by Rybczyński for the production of multi-layer film images, and an institute for research into images and visual technologies.[3]

Rybczyński was a professor at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (1998-2001), and has also taught at many other art and film schools, including the Łódź Film School, Columbia University in New York and Yoshiba University of Art and Design in Tokyo.


star on the Lodz walk of fame

Rybczyński has won numerous prestigious awards at international film festivals including Oberhausen (1981), Tampere (1982), Kraków (1981), and the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival (1993). The Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film he won in 1983 for his film Tango was the first ever Oscar awarded to a Polish artist. (The awards ceremony was notable for Rybczynski, as after he left the ceremony to step outside for a smoke, he was barred entry by a security guard even though he was holding an Oscar statuette. A scuffle ensued, and Rybczynski was arrested. His summation of the event was that "success and failure are quite intertwined.")[4]

He has also received three MTV Video Music Awards, three American Video Awards and three Monitor Awards (1984-1987), an MTV Video Vanguard Award for "being visionary in the field of music video" (1985–86), a Billboard Music Video Award (1986), a Silver Lion at the Cannes Advertising Film Festival (1987), an Emmy Award (1990), a Prix Italia (1990) and the Grand Prize at the International Electronic Cinema Festival, Tokyo-Montreux (1990 and 1992). In 2010 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the development of international cinematic art at the Batumi International Art-House Film Festival (BIAFF) in Georgia.

In 1999 Rybczyński was honored with a star in the Łódź Walk of Fame. In 2008 the Łódź Film School awarded him an honorary doctorate "for outstanding artistic skill and innovation in the cinematic arts and for the creative use of the potentials of art, technology and science". In the same year Poland's Minister of Culture and National Heritage awarded him the Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis for Cultural Achievements, and he also received the prestigious Katarzyna Kobro Award for artistic achievement.

Rybczyński's first solo exhibition – A Treatise on the Visual Image, shown in 2009 at Art Stations in Poznań, the WRO Art Center in Wrocław and the Center of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Toruń – focused attention on his unique artistic and scientific achievements, presenting his work in the context not only of film, but of contemporary fine arts.

Rybczyński was also active in an avant-garde group "Warsztat Formy Filmowej", and had cooperated with "Se-ma-for" Studios in Łódź, where he authored a series of short films, including: Plamuz 1973, Zupa 1974, Nowa książka 1975 and Tango 1980. Tango was his big success, winning the Oscar Award for Best Animated Short in 1983. [5]

After winning the Academy Award, Rybczyński moved to New York and embarked on a career directing music videos in the early years of MTV. Rybczyński created dozens of music videos for artists such as Art of Noise, Mick Jagger, Simple Minds, Pet Shop Boys, Chuck Mangione, The Alan Parsons Project, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Rush, Propaganda, Lady Pank. His clip for John Lennon's Imagine was created as a showpiece for HDTV technology. Rybczyński won several MTV Awards, including the coveted Video Vanguard Award for his radical contributions to the form.

Rybczyński is a recognized pioneer in HDTV technology. In 1990, he produced the HDTV program The Orchestra for the Japanese market. This suite of classical music videos won many awards (the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects"). The program, created in HDTV, was broadcast in standard resolution by PBS as part of their Great Performances series in the U.S., as HDTV was not widely available to viewers until a decade later. Segments of this program are regularly featured on the Classic Arts Showcase channel in the U.S.

Frustrated with the quality of available chroma key technology — the process of removing a specific color frequency from film and video that had become essential to his work — Rybczyński began to author his own chromakey software in the 1990s. This led to an R&D position with the Los Angeles Ultimatte Corporation, longtime industry leaders in chromakey technology.


Poland period[edit]

Year Film Title Duration Film Type Shoot Location
1972 Kwadrat (Square) 4:40 35 mm short film PWSFTviT Łódź, Poland
Take Five 3:36 35 mm short film PWSFTviT Łódź, Poland
1973 Plamuz (Music Art) 9:38 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
1974 Zupa (Soup) 8:22 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
1975 Nowa Książka (New Book) 10:26 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
Lokomotywa (Locomotive) 9:38 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
Święto (Holiday) 9:38 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
1976 Oj! Nie Mogę Się Zatrzymać! (Oh, I Can't Stop!) 10:07 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
Weg Zum Nachbarn (Way To Your Neighbor) 2:30 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
1977 Piątek - Sobota (Friday - Saturday) 3:00 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
1979 Mein Fenster (My Window) 2:26 35 mm short film Vienna
1980 Tango 8:14 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
Media 1:36 35 mm short film SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland
Sceny Narciarskie z Franzem Klammeren (Ski Scenes with Franz Klammer) 9:38 35 mm documentary film in collaboration with B. Dziworski, WFO Łódź, Poland and Signal Film, Vienna
1981 Wdech-Wydech (Inhale-Exhale) 2:26 35 mm short film in collaboration with B. Dziworski, SMFF Se-Ma-For Łódź, for TVP, Poland

Later works[edit]




  • "Lose Your Love" - music video for Blancmange, 3:54, Warner Bros.
  • "Alive and Kicking" - music video for Simple Minds, 5:25, A&M Records
  • "Ultimo Ballo" - music video for Angel and Maimone, 4:50, Virgin Records
  • "Midnight Mover" - music video for Accept, 3:10, Epic Records
  • "Minus Zero" - music video for Lady Pank, 3:55, MCA Records
  • "She Went Pop" - music video for I Am Siam, 4:10, Columbia Records
  • "Hot Shot" - music video for Jimmy Cliff, 3:55, CBS Records
  • "P-Machinery" - music video for Propaganda, 3:45, Island Records
  • "Who Do You Love" - music video for Bernard Wright, 4:15, Capitol Records


  • "Imagine" - experimental HDTV film, 4:20, music by John Lennon, Rebo/Rybczynski Productions
  • "Candy" - HDTV music video for Cameo, 4:20, Polygram Records, Rebo Productions
  • "The Original Wrapper" - music video for Lou Reed, 4:40, RCA Records
  • "I Can't Think About Dancing" - music video for Missing Persons, 4 min, Capitol Records
  • "Sex Machine" - music video for Fat Boys, 4 min, Tin Pan Apple/Sutra Records
  • "All the Things She Said" - music video for Simple Minds, 4:15, Virgin Records
  • "Hell in Paradise" - music video for Yoko Ono, 3:30, OnoVideo/Polygram Records
  • "Stereotomy" - music video for The Alan Parsons Project, 4:10, Arista Records
  • "OPPORTUNITIES" - music video for Pet Shop Boys, 3:40, EMI Records


  • "Let's Work" - HDTV music video for Mick Jagger, 4:05, CBS Records
  • "Why Should I Cry?" - HDTV music video for Nona Hendryx, 4 min, EMI Records, Rebo Productions
  • "Keep Your Eye On Me" - HDTV music video for Herb Alpert, 5:15, A&M RECORDS, Rebo Productions
  • "Steps" - experimental video/35mm film, 26 min, Zbig Vision, KCTA-TV(PBS), Channel Four
  • "I'm Begging You" - music video for Supertramp, 4 min, A&M Records
  • "Time Stand Still" - music video for Rush, 3:30, Polygram Records
  • "Something Real" - music video for Mr. Mister, 4:10, BMG Music
  • "Dragnet 1987" - music video for Art of Noise, 3 min, Chrysalis Records


  • Fluff - opening sequence video, 1:47, HDTV, RAI
  • The Duel - a tribute to G.Melies, 4:08, HDTV, Telegraph,
  • Blue Like You - HDTV music video for Etienne Daho, 3:41, Virgin Records
  • The Fourth Dimension - experimental 35mm film, 27 min, Zbig Vision, Rai 3, Canal+ and KTCA-TV (PBS)


  • Capriccio no.24 - experimental HDTV film, 6:18, TVE's The Art of Video
  • You Better Dance - HDTV music video for The Jets, 3:34, MCA Records
  • Cowbell - HDTV music video for Takeshi Itoh, 4 min, CBS Records
  • GMF Groupe - promo, 2:03, HDTV, Zbig Vision and Ex Nihilo


  • The Orchestra - HDTV long film, 57:11, Zbig Vision and Ex Nihilo, coproduced by NHK, Canal+ and PBS Great Performances.
  • Video Hits One - 17 network ID's for VH1


  • Manhattan - experimental HDTV film, 28 min, Zbig Vision and NHK Enterprises USA, Inc.
  • Washington - experimental HDTV film, 28 min, Zbig Vision and NHK Enterprises USA, Inc.


  • Kafka - HDTV long film, 52:16, Télémax, Les Editions Audiovisuelles
  • Curtains - opening sequence for Tonight Show, 0:34, HDTV, NBC TV


  • The Vision, 2011, co-director Dorota Zgłobicka, Zbig Vision, Polska

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kolejne śledztwo w sprawie CeTa. Zawiadomienie złożył Zbigniew Rybczyński". Gazetawroclawska.pl. Polskapresse sp. z.o.o. 29 December 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Zbigniew Rybczyński chce zrzec się polskiego obywatelstwa". Gazetawroclawska.pl. Polskapresse sp. z.o.o. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Otwarcie Centrum Technologii Audiowizualnych CeTa we Wrocławiu". Gazeta.pl. Agora SA. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  4. ^ The Worst Oscar Night Ever, or “American Pig, I Have Oscar!”|Cartoon Brew
  5. ^ Short Film Winners: 1983 Oscars

External links[edit]