Nocturnal Butterflies (1998)


A beautiful moth leads us towards the waiting room of an abandoned railway station. Suddenly a surreal situation comes to life. Inspired by the work of the Belgian surrealist painter van Paul Delvaux.

“Nocturnal Butterflies is the only film that was entirely made in the ‘Servaisgraphy technique’. It proved to be a very interesting technique on the field of visual result, but became obsolete because of the complicated labour it required and the development of digital technology.”


After already having used in Harpya his own technique to combine live action and animation, Raoul Servais invented a system which enabled faster work and which was relatively cheap: the Servaisgraphy.

Actors are being filmed on a black and white pellicule in entire white surroundings. After that, the 35 mm takes are being analysed and the pictures needed selected. These are enlarged on special transparent photographic paper which is placed in a machine. This machine produces a reversed negative which leads to a positive image, on photosensitive cells (transparent acetate sheets). The cells on which the actors can be seen in grey tones are coloured on the back, placed on the painted backgrounds and filmed, image by image.

Servais did no longer use his Servaisgraphy after Nocturnal Butterflies because the development of computer technology made his invention obsolete. He used computer techniques not only for his long film Taxandria but also for his short film Atraksion.


1998: Grand Prize: International Festival for Animation film – Annecy (France).

1998: Prize of the International Film Critics Federation (FIPRESCI) – Annecy (France).

1998: Palme d’Or: Festival Mondial du Court Métrage – Huy (Belgium).

1998: Prize of the Walloon Government – Huy (Belgium).

1998: SABAM-Prize – Huy (Belgium).

1999: Honorary Distinction: International Short Film Festival – Drama (Greece).

Technical File:

– Format: 35mm

– Colour

– Frame: 1 x 1.66

– Sound: Optical – Stereo Dolby SR

– Length: 8′

– Original version: international – no dialogue

– Directed by: Raoul Servais

– Script: Raoul Servais

– Animation: Raoul Servais , Rudy Turkovics

– Backgrounds: Raoul Servais

– Music: Bo Spaenc

– Cast: Jo Roets, a.o.

– Produced by: Anagram, realized with he support of the Flemish Community, l’Atelier AAA (Annecy) and Channel Four (London)


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