Vincent Morisset always wanted to be a filmmaker, but he fell into web development when his friends asked him to make a website for their band, which happened to be indie rock group Arcade Fire. This catapulted his career, and soon he received more requests to do work for Arcade Fire, as well as world famous ambient musicians, Sigur Ros.
Morisset’s talk was focused on an interactive art project that the NFB asked him to make. Given carte blanche, the project started with only a few guiding principles. The goals set out by the creative team were to sustain an audience’s attention for at least 5-7 minutes and to trigger some emotion from the audience.
From these guidelines, the project gradually formed and Morisset took the audience through the process of creating “BLA BLA: A Film for Computer.” First Vincent created a character to work with, questioning whether it should be human or an animal. He then moved on to creating and playing with models of the character (a cartoonish looking man with an inflated head), mapping it into a 3D animation, filming the model with stop motion animation techniques, programming the interactions for the character and much more. Morisset’s creative process on this project allowed for spontaneous creativity and experimentation throughout the creation.
What Morisset created is an interactive web application that revolves around a character in various situations. The interactive elements differ for every situation but usually tell the audience more about the character in interesting and surprising ways. The piece of art has a way of evoking the emotions using film techniques as well as an empathetic and loveable character.
Although not every step of the process went smoothly, the resulting product was a great success. Bla Bla is an interactive piece of art divided into six chapters that encourages the audience to play and to find new ways to interact with the work. As Morisset puts it, there are no quests, villains or points.
Even though Bla Bla is subtitled “a film for computer,” Morisset is quick to point out that it actually isn’t a film (even though it made him feel good to be considered a film director because it’s something he’s always wanted to be).
Instead, this art piece has a greater resemblance to a book. The audience is given the option to freeze time using an hourglass icon at the bottom of the screen, giving them the opportunity to stay on a chapter for as long as they like, Morisset explained, saying this is why it's more like a book than a film in this respect.
It’s no surprise that this project has gotten international attention. Touring to such places at Japan and France, the project has grown in size, which has created new opportunities for the audience to interact with the content while reinterpreting and adapting the piece to unique interfaces such as 360° projection and touchscreen to name a few.
A short behind-the-scenes featurette can be seen here.