Dassault Systèmes celebrates Leonardo da Vinci’s genius in film


If Leonardo da Vinci had access to 3D digital software, what would he have created? This is the question that sparked Frédéric Vacher’s, Head of Innovation at Dassault Systèmes, exploration and experimentation team to bring the inventions of the Italian polymath to life. From establishing a global community of passionate creators to launching design challenges, centuries-old machines have transformed into reality, even on to the big screen. Jim Capobianco premiers The Inventor, a stop-motion animated film depicting the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, all created with Dassault Systèmes.

Directed by Jim Capobianco, The Inventor depicts the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci



Codex Atlanticus manuscripts brought to life


With a legacy spanning across anatomy, art, engineering, mobility, and numerous other fields, the extensive yet highly in-depth work of Leonardo da Vinci has left an enduring mark on the modern world. The work of this inspired polymath has, in turn, ignited the imagination of countless experts and innovations in these fields throughout the centuries and continues to do so today. Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus, a collection of drawings and notes, is still a source for new inventions.


Like Leonardo da Vinci, Dassault Systèmes is at the cross between engineering, science, and art. He is a source of inspiration for generations, especially the younger, in many fields. We were considering projects aligned with his work to inspire but also reach a bigger audience of passionate next-gen creators,’ begins Frédéric Vacher, Head of Innovation at Dassault Systèmes, in an interview with designboom.

dassault systèmes reconstructs leonardo da vinci's inventions for film
Drawings from da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus were reconstructed on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform



I started Open Codex as a community project to reconstruct the machines of Leonardo da Vinci from his original codex. These manuscripts include inventions in design, not only in the principles of engineering but also art. His drawings are very small so the idea was to work as a community to engineer multiple interpretations, each with different functionalities,’ explains Frédéric.


Frédéric is well-versed in launching innovative initiatives. He set up Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, which now boasts studios in France, Germany, the USA, and India. Back in 2012, he launched the Open Codex community as a network for passionate creators to reconstruct machines envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci in his manuscripts. This community rapidly embarked on the journey of turning these imaginative concepts into a reality using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.


After many months, this project eventually resulted in many different explanations, drawings, and 3D twins of the machines and their mechanics. This was all realized through Dassault Systèmes’ platform, which was free and open for the community to connect,’ the Head of Innovation adds.

dassault systèmes reconstructs leonardo da vinci's inventions for film
participants digitally created, tested, and optimized the mechanics of the polymath’s machines



jim capobianco animates Leonardo da vinci’s life in animation


When I started the Open Codex community, it was to understand if we could activate the power of collective intelligence in 3D media. It was interesting to see the results,’ continues Frédéric. ‘This project attracted Jim Capobianco, as he was thinking of making an animated movie about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Together, we decided to continue to see the community grow.


Following the footsteps of many before him, Jim Capobianco took an interest not only in Leonardo da Vinci’s extraordinary work but also in his entire life. This fascination, like that of many others, drew him to the Open Codex community. The award-nominated filmmaker, renowned as the creative force behind films such as Ratatouille, the Lion King, and Wall-E, contemplated turning the polymath’s life into a cinematic masterpiece. To accomplish this, he needed a way to further transform da Vinci’s inventions into reality.

dassault systèmes reconstructs leonardo da vinci's inventions for film
3D mock-ups served as a crucial intermediary step before bringing the inventions to life through 3D printing



Dassault Systèmes and the inventor launch 3d design challenge


In collaboration with Jim, Frédéric decided to continue the Open Codex’s mission by launching a new 3D design challenge in 2021, bringing da Vinci’s drawings one step closer to real life. Individuals were challenged to showcase their skills using Dassault Systèmes’ 3D digital applications to reconstruct the polymath’s manuscript-based inventions. Five winners were selected based on the faithfulness of their models to the original drawings, the accuracy of their movements, and their suitability for 3D printing.


To create the film, Jim was interested in several of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines, many of which did not exist. This is why we organized the global challenge,’ explains Frédéric. ‘We were positively surprised by the quality of the entries. The talented winners included five from France, USA, and India.


dassault systèmes reconstructs leonardo da vinci's inventions for film
the film aims to inspire new inventions using Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform



The 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s applications empowered participants to digitally create, test, and optimize the structures, mechanics, and systems of the machines. These 3D mock-ups served as a crucial intermediary step before bringing the inventions to life through 3D printing. Together with French studio FOLIASCOPE as a producer, Jim employed these models in stop-motion animation to capture the film’s scenes. The movable joints were adjusted frame-by-frame, giving the impression that the machines were full functional.


Once the 3D models were realized, they could then be 3D printed directly.’ The Head of Innovation continues: ‘the particularity of this move is that it is stop motion, not digital. This was why the creators needed to understand how the machines worked, as well as to make back-ups.

dassault systèmes reconstructs leonardo da vinci's inventions for film
Franck Lennon, one of the Open Codex champions, designed one machine in the platform, visualized at Clos Lucé Castle



the inventor inspires new innovations on Dassault Systèmes


The result of these efforts is the reimagining of both Leonardo da Vinci’s life and his inventions, which are showcased in Jim Capobianco’s The Inventor. The film made its debut in the USA in September 2023 and in France in January 2024. The story aims to continue the polymath’s legacy by inspiring new creators and innovations in the fields of anatomy, art, engineering, mobility, and beyond. This is where Dassault Systèmes plays a vital role. Their 3D digital applications empower aspiring creatives, whether young professionals or hobbyists, enabling them to access, explore, and experiment regardless of age, financial resources, or geographical location – all that is required is a smart device and an internet connection.


The cinema, movies, and theater are a new and interesting community for Dassault Systèmes. Now, with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud, everyone can easily design and access the virtual world. Now is the time for everyone to use the virtual universe for their own ideas. We even have a new, free app, called SolidWorks for Kids, and a more affordable offer for makers, not professionals. Young creatives can be inspired, use ours apps, and start to design in 3D,’ concludes Frédéric Vacher, Head of Innovation at Dassault Systèmes, to designboom.



film info:


title: The Inventor

director: Jim Capobianco

producer: FOLIASCOPE

collaborator: Dassault Systèmes

premiere: September 2023 (USA) and January 2024 as ‘Léo’ (France)