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Francis Desharnais: artist-in-residence at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec

This post is a translation. To read the original in French, click here.


From July 16 to August 3, 2014, animation filmmaker and graphic artist Francis Desharnais will be in residence at the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City, as part of the Frame x Frame: Animated Film at the NFB exhibition.

Back on June 3, Desharnais opened the exhibition with a very impressive live performance. Now, he’ll settle in for 3 weeks in the studio with the aim of showing the public what goes in to the work of animation; Desharnais will be working on a lively swing dance-inspired short film.


Francis Desharnais animating a couple of swing dancers at the opening of the Frame x Frame exhibition on June 3.

Swing and rotoscoping

Known for his character Burquette (available in French only), the filmmaker will use the technique of rotoscoping to make his short film. This involves drawing around the contours of a figure filmed in real time and then transcribing the captured shape and action into an animated film. This method realistically reproduces the dynamic movements of what’s being filmed.

For the occasion, Desharnais will be working with two sources: a couple of swing dancers whose movements he’ll shoot ahead of time, and the movements that museum visitors are requested to submit at the time of their visit.

Desharnais is the first of 6 filmmakers who will do a residency at the Museum. He’ll be followed by Janet Perlman, Theodore Ushev, Sylvie Trouvé and her partner Dale Hayward, Claude Cloutier, and Patrick Bouchard over the coming year.
Forthcoming filmmakers-in-residence (L to R): Francis Desharnais, Janet Perlman, and Patrick Bouchard

Desharnais’ NFB collaborations

In addition to the interactive project Burquette (French only), inspired by the comic of the same name, Francis Desharnais has produced two animated films with the NFB. In 2003, he produced Rumors, a social satire created by the Kiwistiti Group to which Desharnais belongs. This film tells the story of tourists invading Quebec City while a man is found lying on the ground. Immediately, a crowd gathers around him. What happened to him? Each onlooker has an opinion. But while their chatter feeds the rumor, none of these curious characters thinks for a second to help the poor man. Not the scientist, or the policeman, or the businessman, or the punk, or the old lady…

Desharnais also made a Stephen Lewis Foundation public service announcement called Numbers, a film intended to raise awareness about the millions of kids orphaned by AIDS in Africa. This film was produced in 2004.

The filmmaker studied graphic design at the Cégep de Sainte-Foy. His first comic, Burquette, published by éditions Les 400 coups in 2008, became a hit and earned him several honours, including Bédéis Causa Prizes in the categories of the Réal Fillion Prize and the Grand Prize of the City of Quebec in 2009.

Get all the details about the Frame x Frame exhibit here.

Update (Oct. 28, 2014): Francis Desharnais has completed his residency at the museum, and you can check out the swingin’ short film he produced here:

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  1. Great work…and lots of it I would imagine.

    — Alexander,

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