Stereolab – tricks for the eye from the NFB

Ottawa’s Animation International Animation festival took place this past weekend, and although I was a little swamped with the coming Nite Ride I did manage to squeeze in the stereoscopic presentations from the National Film Board’s StereoLab. The StereoLab has been around the NFB since the late 90’s and one of it’s central elements is the IMAX SANDDE system (Stereo Animation Drawing Device) which uses a wand and stereoscopic projection system to allow you to draw in three dimensional space. The OAIF presented a screening of the stereoscopic work and a panel presentation with animators Claire Blanchet, Munro Ferguson and Theodore Ushev as well as NFB Associate Producer Maral Mohammadian.

The screening was an interesting mix with some classic NFB product capping it off with Facing Champlain. It had the largest budget in the bunch, and although it was interesting to see the fruits of a more extensive team’s engagement with the technology it suffered from the trappings of the NFB brand as it grappled with national identity in a suitable progressive educational context. The most endearing piece was from Winnipeg artists Matthew Rankin and Mike Maryniuk. Although far more DIY than the work from the Stereolab it’s crafty style brought it to life in a more tactile way than some of the other works. Theodore Ushev‘s work was also very independent and DIY in terms of his approach to creating stereoscopic works using mainly After Effects. Parts of his piece where incredibly detailed and visually stunning. Claire Blanchet also mustered some incredible moments of visual mind-fuckery. Her work, which was a collaboration with a group of electro-acoustic musicians, really got wings when it delved into the more experimental stuff she was produced while working on the SANDDE system.

June, 2003 Munro Ferguon

Also in the show was work from animator Munro Ferguson who also gave a demonstration of the SANDDE system. This IMAX developed technology uses a wand and a stereoscopic screen set up to allow you to draw in three dimensional space. (Here is a link if you want to read a bit more about it.) Munro’s work June was a really lovely illustration of how the tool works well with an animators sensibility. The abstract shapes that where layered and unfolded where neither typical 3D nor where there 2D animations given a layered treatment. They where something new and unique.

Creatively this machine had my head spinning. I had trouble concentrating on what the panelist where saying because I just wanted to start jotting down all kinds of ideas and possibilities. I hope this is something we can connect to at Artengine, so if there are artists around who are interested in stereoscopy please drop us a line. This is the kind of thing we built the lab for!


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One Response to “Stereolab – tricks for the eye from the NFB”

  1. maryniuk says:

    This is Mike Maryniuk who made "Dead Ringer"
    Thanks for the super fantastic comments.

    If anyone wants some advice on shitty 3DIY contact me at

    It's easier than you think.

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