April 17, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Felix & Paul Studios, the EMMY® Award-winning creator of immersive entertainment experiences, in collaboration with the Academy Award®-winning National Film Board of Canada, one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, has been selected to premiere their virtual reality experience—GYMNASIA—at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 24, 2019 through May 4, 2019 in New York City and tickets to GYMNASIA, playing in the Virtual Arcade, are now on sale at tribecafilm.com/immersive.
GYMNASIA is a groundbreaking cinematic VR experience that is a collaboration between Felix & Paul Studios, the National Film Board of Canada and Oscar®-nominated Clyde Henry Productions. The six-minute experience flawlessly blends 3D 360-degree video, stop motion, miniatures and computer-generated graphics (CGI), and pushes the art of puppet animation into uncharted territory. GYMNASIA will be available for download on the Oculus Store beginning April 26, 2019.
GYMNASIA was produced by Stéphane Rituit (Felix & Paul Studios) and Dana Dansereau (NFB) and directed by the award-winning duo Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (Clyde Henry Productions). Montreal-based musician Patrick Watson composed music for the experience with immersive sound design and capture provided by Headspace Studio.
“We are honored to once again premiere our work and be part of the official selection at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival,” said Paul Raphaël, co-founder and creative director of Felix & Paul Studios. “We collaborated with Chris, Maciek and Patrick on our very first VR experience, Strangers with Patrick Watson, so it was both fascinating and rewarding to see how much the medium has evolved in the short five years since our studio produced that inaugural VR piece.”
GYMNASIA is a dark dream—unsettling and weirdly wonderful. It is the first stop motion VR experience to induce the elusive anxiety that occurs when the lines between “real” and “unreal” are blurred beyond belief. In GYMNASIA, viewers step into the stillness of an abandoned school and enter a place where the ghostly ephemera of a lost childhood await them. The immersive experience recalls the sights and sounds of a child’s world through the echoes of ball games, school lessons and choir recitals.
“Partnering to create new and innovative experiences is part of NFB’s DNA. Working with Clyde Henry and Felix & Paul Studios on this technical feat and genre pushing experience has been hard work but also a pure joy,” said Dana Dansereau, Producer for the NFB’s Digital Studio. “Stop motion animation in VR is in its early days and it took the extreme talents of these three groups to pull off such a successful project. We are proud and excited to launch GYMNASIA at Tribeca Immersive 2019.”
The GYMNASIA installation in Tribeca’s Virtual Arcade is a theatrical event that will distort your perception of scale and tickle your memories by integrating life size puppets into an environment with a cinematic VR experience. The installation was produced and installed by Phi Centre, a Montreal-based multidisciplinary arts and culture organization, and is also being supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Niepodległa programme run by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
When viewers walk into the installation space, they are immediately immersed in the world of GYMNASIA with the eerie room tone of children humming in a gymnasium that creates a sense of space larger than the one the viewers are in. On the walls are animated projections of running puppet children and, in the corner, a full-scale puppet of a “teacher” places acetate musical sheets on an overhead projector. Viewers are then directed by “scientists” in lab coats toward a row of plastic child sized chairs, the type found in every grade school cafeteria. In the last chair, a puppet sits waiting patiently for the viewer to put on their VR headset to begin viewing the GYMNASIA experience.
“For us, creating VR has always been as much about the neuroscience of this fresh medium as it is about art theory. Indeed, in no other art form are aesthetics and science so aligned,” said Chris Lavis, co-director of GYMNASIA. “The GYMNASIA installation at Tribeca will be an engaging and surreal experience for festival-goers and our hope is that this unique installation will completely upend their sense of scale and reality.”
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailer, synopses: Gymnasia
Felix & Paul Studios
Tribeca Film Festival
Clyde Henry Productions