BLIND VAYSHA – VR
| 8 min 13 s
Technique: VIRTUAL REALITY ANIMATION (Samsung Gear)
VIRTUAL REALITY ANIMATION
Based on the film Nominated for BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
89th ACADEMY AWARDS®
Selections and Awards
Based on the short story “Blind Vaysha” by Georgi Gospodinov
© Georgi Gospodinov, 2001
BLIND VAYSHA: FROM FILM TO VIRTUAL REALITY
Vaysha is not like other little girls: she was born with a left eye that sees only the past and a right eye that sees only the future, and she cannot live in the present. Should she poke out one of her eyes so that she can live in the other’s temporal reality? Or is she doomed to perceive the world from this perplexing perspective?
Blind Vaysha is an expressionistic work that’s been created in three distinct versions: 2D, stereoscopic 3D and virtual reality (VR). Director Theodore Ushev embraced VR for one simple reason: to allow viewers to have a more visceral connection with his heroine. He uses this immersive technology to serve the purposes of narrative, not visual spectacle, and to make the central metaphor of his story, which is steeped in Buddhist wisdom, that much more compelling.
Each of these versions uses the same animation method: the traditional art of linocutting recreated on a graphics tablet, a popular tool for today’s animators. The result is a fascinating encounter between artistic tradition and cutting-edge technology—an apt way of perpetuating an exquisite, centuries-old form of visual art.
Vaysha is not like other young girls: she was born with one green eye and one brown eye. But her unmatched eyes aren’t all that’s special about her gaze: her left eye sees only the past, and her right eye only the future. Like a terrible curse, Vaysha’s split vision prevents her from living in the present. Blinded by what was and tormented by what will be, she remains trapped between two irreconcilable temporalities. “Blind Vaysha”—that’s what everyone calls her.
Directed by renowned filmmaker and animator Theodore Ushev, Blind Vaysha is adapted from a philosophical short story by Georgi Gospodinov, a leading multidisciplinary author from the younger generation of Bulgarian writers. Using an expressive, powerful style poised midway between religious paintings and linocuts, Ushev reaffirms his virtuosity in visual experimentation, creating a film that is both symbolic and accessible, featuring bucolic European landscapes and Benedictine architecture.
Brilliantly narrated by actress Caroline Dhavernas, Blind Vaysha uses wisdom and humour to tell its metaphorical tale about the difficulty of living in the here and now. Available in 2D and stereoscopic 3D, Blind Vaysha will soon be released in a VR version that allows viewers to forge an immediate and visceral connection with its protagonist.
Blind Vaysha takes an unusual approach to virtual reality (VR). Normally, VR requires the use either of several cameras or of one 360-degree camera to reconstruct an immersive environment. In Blind Vaysha, filmmaker Theodore Ushev instead opted for the two cameras of traditional stereoscopy, adapting them adroitly to his purposes.
In order to create a stereoscopic image of a scene, it must be shot twice, from two slightly different positions separated by a distance equivalent to the distance between the eyes. When the two images are then projected onto a screen, the viewer must wear special glasses equipped with polarizing filters that fuse the two images into one and create the illusion of depth.
That is the traditional process that Ushev used for the stereoscopic 3D version of Blind Vaysha. But in the VR version, the VR-headset wearer momentarily experiences a visual disorder, because the two recorded images do not always merge into a single, unified whole. In fact, each eye sees a different image. Ushev does this to fully immerse his audience in Vaysha’s experience in the sequences shot from her subjective viewpoint, in which one eye sees only the past and the other only the future. This confusing perspective enables audiences not only to identify strongly with the protagonist but also to have a physical and visceral experience, disrupting their passive, comfortable view of the world.
Theodore Ushev was born in Kyustendil, Bulgaria, in 1968 and graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. He first made a name for himself as a poster artist in his native country before settling in Montreal in 1999.
Ushev found fertile ground for developing his own original artistic style at the National Film Board of Canada. The Man Who Waited and Tzaritza (2006) quickly earned the respect of audiences and peers, as did his acclaimed trilogy on the relationship between art and power: Tower Bawher (2006), Drux Flux (2008) and Gloria Victoria (2013).
With Vertical (2003), Sou (2004) and Demoni (2012), Ushev solidified his reputation as an inquisitive and daring artist by exploring new content-delivery platforms. His 16-time award winner Lipsett Diaries (2010), narrated by Xavier Dolan, examined the pioneering work and tragic destiny of Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett.
Ushev quickly followed with Nightingale in December (2011), Joda (2012) and Third Page from the Sun (2014), a scathing reflection on the future of books. In Blood Manifesto (2014), a poetic and ferocious short which Ushev animated with his own blood, he ponders whether ideals are worth spilling blood for. His latest project, Blind Vaysha (2015), is a philosophical tale about the importance of living in the moment.
Photo : NFB
Marc Bertrand joined the French Animation Studio as a producer in 1998 and has since produced more than 100 films, including such notable successes as the award-winning series Science Please! (2001), and Noël Noël (2003) by Nicola Lemay, which won Gémeaux Awards for Best Animated Series or Film in 2002 and 2004 respectively. He also co-produced with Marcel Jean the Norman McLaren Master’s Edition (2006), an award-winning DVD box set featuring digitally restored masterpieces by McLaren, a pioneer in the fusion of music and animation. Bertrand’s interest in new technology has led him to become involved in working on 3D films. In 2008, he coproduced Facing Champlain: A Work in 3 Dimensions, directed by Jean-François Pouliot, and produced Private Eyes, a new 3D film by Nicola Lemay.
Among his other productions are acclaimed films such as Imprints (2004) by Jacques Drouin and works by Theodore Ushev: Tower Bawher (2006), Drux Flux (2009) and Lipsett Diaries (2010), winner of a Genie for Best Animated Short and a Special Mention at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Bertrand has worked on numerous productions, including the Studio GDS/NFB co-production Romance (2011) by renowned Swiss animator Georges Schwizgebel, winner of the 2012 Genie Award. In 2011, he produced Sunday (2011) by Patrick Doyon, which earned an Oscar® nomination and won the 2012 Jutra Award for Best Animated Film.
In 2013, Marc became an AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences) member and completed the co-production Hollow Land (Michèle and Uri Kranot) and Gloria Victoria (T. Ushev), which won the FIPRESCI award in Annecy 2013.
In 2014, it was another of Marc’s production, No fish where to go, that received the same honor. The same year, the film Jutra (Marie-Josée St-Pierre, a co-production with MJSP Film) was selected at the Fortnight of directors in Cannes and in February 2015 won a Jutra, a Gemeaux and a Canadian Screen Award for best short animated film. In 2016, his production of Théodore Ushev’s Vaysha the Blind won both the Jury Prise and de Children Jury prize in Annecy and in 2017 the film was nominated for an Oscar® in for the Best Short Animated film category.
Executive Producer (NFB)
Photo : NFB
As the Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s French Animation Studio, Julie Roy has produced some 40 animated short films. She holds a master’s degree in cinema studies from Université de Montréal and has published numerous articles about women and animated films.
Her notable productions include The Subject by Patrick Bouchard and THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT by Matthew Rankin, both of which screened at Cannes, at the 2018 Directors’ Fortnight and the 2017 Semaine de la Critique, respectively. In 2016, she co-produced Franck Dion’s The Head Vanishes (Papy 3D/NFB), which won the Cristal Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Among the many other artists whose work she has guided are Claude Cloutier, Michèle Lemieux, and Regina Pessoa.
Roy encourages diverse approaches to filmmaking, and is currently developing an interactive installation with Nicolas Brault and working with Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (Madame Tutli-Putli, 2007) on their next short film.
A film by
Based on the short story “Blind Vaysha” by Georgi Gospodinov
© Georgi Gospodinov, 2001
Composed by Nikola Gruev
Performed by Kottarashky
From the album Opa Hey!
Published by Asphalt Tango Records 2009
Music for the funeral of Queen Mary, Z. 860
Burial Service March
By Henry Purcell
Performed by Oxford Camerata
Courtesy of Naxos of America
This project was developed with the support of the Odyssée Artist-in-Residency program of the Abbey of Fontevraud – ACCR, with additional support from the Ministry of culture and communication and the Pays de la Loire Region.
With the participation of ARTE France
Short Film Program Manager: Hélène Vayssières
French Animation studio
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a leader in exploring animation as an artform, a storytelling medium and innovative content for emerging platforms. It produces trailblazing animated works both in its Montreal studios and across the country, and it works with many of the world’s leading creators on international co-productions. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including seven Oscars for NFB animation and seven grand prizes at the Annecy festival. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.