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An insider’s look at the NFB interactive studio in Montreal

An insider’s look at the NFB interactive studio in Montreal

An insider’s look at the NFB interactive studio in Montreal

The NFB interactive studio in Montreal is opening its cranium to show you what’s going on inside. What are we thinking about? What are we talking about? What do we love? What’s giving us a hard time? Through the words and watercolors of Valérie Darveau, editorial manager of the studio, we’ll publish a blog post every month on an issue we’re reflecting on, and on which we want to hear your thoughts.

I am a child of the 90s. I got a Nintendo for my third birthday, and at nine years old I was downloading Aqua songs on Napster, chatting using CaraMail and searching for pictures of lions on Copernic. I have never known the world without technology, not to mention without the Internet. However, when I arrived at the NFB Interactive Studio in January 2013, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I knew nothing at all. Nyet, nada, que nenni.

The studio had just recently celebrated its third anniversary and we were in full-on production of A Journal of Insomnia. This was all new to me.

I was under the impression that I had to think backwards.

Not to mention the jargon! I never admitted it to my colleagues, but I Googled a couple of acronyms: UGC? UX? UI? Uh?? There. I said it.

Interactivity: a media on its own

So, my first experience with the interactive realm came from the inside, right from the front row. I realized that all I knew about the Internet was it’s function… to be functional. I had never really thought about its creative and participatory potential. Most Certainly, I had never perceived the interactive as a medium on its own. That was my digital awakening, so to speak.

The studio is now 5 years old. We are a diverse team, with members who come from radio, television, publishing, linear documentary, finance, etc.

What is special is that despite our different backgrounds, we now ask most of the same questions about our work. We all have questions about our projects, our role as a production studio, our role as creators, and more.

There is also a growing roster of artists that explore the interactive and digital mediums worldwide. There must be a whole lot of people out there thinking about the same issues!

Inside the interactive studio

That said, we want to show you what’s going on behind the scenes of the NFB’s interactive studio. We love trekking out of our comfort zone, taking chances, trying new things. We want to break down the walls to see what’s going on on the other side.

We ask ourselves all kinds of questions. What is the participatory aspect of the documentary genre? How can we explore the short format in the interactive realm? How can we combine documentary with indie gaming?

We invite you to have a discussion with us about both the big and the small issues we face, as well as the ones that you face.

Are you in?

Cool, so are we. You can always let us know what you think in the comments below each post. October’s post will be on the public participation in interactive documentaries.

To start, let me introduce you to the studio and the people who bring this place to life.


Translation: The NFB Interactive Studio in Montreal: 5 years and over 40 works produced for web, mobile, theatre, and public space. 38 collaborations in 11 different countries. 80 awards and honours—40 international and 40 Canadian. 

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  1. Born in the Netherlands in 1924.
    I know that is very old; but my main interests is politics.
    Having lived during Hitler’s rule, I am wondering if history is being repeated; regarding our P.M. Harper, planing to get a war going with Russia

    — Adrienne Leduc,

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