Quebec-based filmmaker and interactive storyteller Vincent Morisset’s latest interactive project BLA BLA has recently been transformed from a web-based film to an interactive installation for children at the Gaîté lyrique in Paris. He previously broke down the components of developing an interactive story—specifically BLA BLA—but this in-depth behind-the-scenes video (above) that the National Film Board of Canada just released goes even deeper into the creative process.
In the making-of, Morisset and his collaborators, including Caroline Robert (visual design and animation), Philippe Lambert (sound, music, and voice), and Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit (programming and technology), explain the different aspects of the project’s transition to real life. Here’s our breakdown of their captivating process, and be sure to watch the full making-of above.
Morisset and Robert’s approach to character development was pretty traditional. They started with a series of sketches to find out who and what their “vague, nameless character” was and how its demeanor translated from drawing to animation. They experimented with xerography, stop-motion, and traditional animation, and the process of really fleshing out BLA BLA‘s main character—plus Robert’s typography and stylistic choices—ended up affecting the sound design and programming. Morisset wanted the result to look handmade and simple—less technology driven even though tech propelled the entire project.
In BLA BLA the audio is essential in conveying emotion and providing the story arch as the character speaks in mostly nonsensical gibberish. Lambert created over 1000 sound clips, which he scored and arranged through real-time programming. Both the character and sound design were able to unfold organically as Robert and Lambert constantly sent images and sound clips back and forth to inspire one another.
When it came time translate the film to installation and adapt the story for children, the the team first had to work around with the “odd-shaped L space” they were given. They set up each chapter on loop in a separate setting to create different atmospheres—the exact opposite of the linear web-based aspect. The animation was left alone though Lanctôt-Benoit has to rewrite a lot of code. The build required the incorporation of cameras, sensors, physical outputs, motion detectors, and surround-sound speakers to complete the magical world.