Tim Jenison is an inventor who began to wonder how artists of the 17th century were able to paint so photo-realistically and he set out to find a possible answer (it's all done with smoke & mirrors, minus the smoke). Tim not only proposes an answer but uses his technique to actually produce a "Vermeer".
A highlight of the film for me was seeing David Hockney. He is my absolute favorite living artist. About 10 years ago David proposed his own theory as to how these paintings exhibited such startling realism in his book Secret Knowledge. However it was done, it certainly remains a secret, but by the end of the film we are convinced that Tim has come up with an interesting possibility that actually works.
I'll let you check out Vermeer's images for yourself.