Get Animated: Hothouse 6 in 3D at the NFB Mediatheque

The following is a guest post by Tanya Koivusalo.

The fourth edition of Get Animated!, the NFB’s annual celebration of International Animation Day, is right around the corner, and the NFB Mediatheque is excited to host its first-ever 3D event… for free! On Thursday October 28th at 7 pm, Hothouse in the Third Dimension introduces Toronto audiences to mini-masterpieces from the sixth edition of Hothouse, a 12-week apprenticeship for emerging Canadian animators who, this time around, tackled the challenging process of stereoscopic 3D (S3D) animation. I spoke with Maral Mohammadian, Associate Producer Version of Hothouse 6 and Production Manager of StereoLab, about her experiences with the Hothouse 6 gang, and the use of stereoscopic 3D technology. She will be on hand to host the event with filmmakers Megan Turnbull and Zane Kozak.

Read an in-depth description of S3D technology here (part two here).

Tanya Koivusalo: Having worked on previous editions of Hothouse, and given the added challenge of stereoscopic 3D (S3D), how did Hothouse 6 differ from the others?

Maral Mohammadian: I think everyone worked even harder than usual, mainly because we all wanted to know what would happen when you took the energy and ingenuity of Hothouse and placed it inside the loving and able arms of the NFB StereoLab. The goal with Hothouse 6 was to try and make the creative process more intuitive and immediate so we could delve deeper into the storytelling possibilities. We tried to keep things as simple as possible and because the expectations about the final films in Hothouse are usually modest, we got to take more risks and that was a thrill.

TK: How much more of a challenge did it pose for the filmmakers?

MM: I’m not sure that they found it any more challenging than filmmakers in the past. Hothouse is already incredibly demanding, so S3D was just one of many beasts to tackle. Some of them had some experience in this technique so there were other things keeping them up at night. Others were completely new to it, so the learning curve was huge and that meant serious prioritizing. But for all the filmmakers, S3D was just one of the many ingredients in the mix: learning to communicate their ideas, collaborating with creative partners, learning professional pipelines, pushing themselves creatively and all the while under a massive ticking clock.

TK: What were your expectations of the filmmakers going into the process? Did anything surprise you?

MM: I was surprised by how fearless the filmmakers were, not just about embracing the wealth of new information but about the approach to their films. Each filmmaker came at it from a different point of view and was committed to making a statement. True, Hothouse is first about the process and experience of making a film at the NFB. Because the focus was on experimentation with S3D grammar, and because the process is so cumbersome, we weren’t expecting more than interesting small ‘experiments’ or ‘moments’. What we got are some very clever and entertaining small films.

TK: As stereoscopic 3D is constantly evolving, what do you see as the next step in its development?

MM: I think 3D is becoming more accessible to the DIY filmmaker and that’s bittersweet news. Bitter because it’s so very easy to make ‘bad’ 3D, and bad 3D can make your guts burst and your brain bleed. But it’s also sweet because there will be more voices in the mix and more variety in the films being made. And as more films get made, the technique will become less self-conscious and more integrated with the concept. I think you can take people to places in 3D that you just wouldn’t think to do in 2D. It’s those possibilities that are exciting about the medium. 3D is not for everyone (just like digital is not for everyone) and not every film will be better just because it’s in 3D, but people who are interested and feel they can use the medium to express something special will be able to find ways to do it and I hope they do.

To see the final products, and Maral and the Hothouse filmmakers share their experiences in person, visit us on Thursday October 28th at 7 pm. Visit the website for more information about the NFB Mediatheque’s Get Animated! activities, October 26-31.