“Jusqu’ici,” designed for people aged 5 to 105, is an interactive experience that gives participants the choice. You can lose your way for six minutes or forever. You can run around or stay put. You can access it through a web browser, but also on your phone or using the Oculus Rift virtual reality helmet. This simple walk in the woods becomes whatever you turn it into: a game, a lullaby, an escape, a growing awareness of what has remained hidden right in front of you or within you, until now.
Vincent Morisset has been passionately interested in ornithology since childhood. He spent a lot of time walking in the woods and watching birds. In accordance with his interest in how we look at our surroundings, he wanted to juxtapose the real and virtual in an interactive experience called “Jusqu’ici” (“Until now”). “The idea was to create a bridge between video games and film,” says the film director. “I asked myself how I could recreate our relationship with space in an interactive experience.”
Interaction is what the director is avidly interested in. “I’m particularly interested in creating a bridge between the language of film and interactive mechanisms,” he adds. To focus on this subject, he created his own studio in 2009, AATOAA, which has worked with Arcade Fire on several occasions.
“Jusqu’ici” is a stroll in the junction between reality and virtuality that combines a pathway filmed in 360 degrees, animation, interactivity, and sets drawn in ink. To create this experience, Vincent called on his team made up of Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit (development), Caroline Robert (visuals), and Philippe Lambert (sound and music).
For the shoots, the team initially set up six GoPro mini-cameras on a boom and shot footage in the Eastern Townships, Mauricie, the Laurentians, and Mount Royal in Montreal. Since this process doesn’t allow you to hide the person who’s filming, the studio decided to make Vincent the main character, dressed in a white suit. The other members of the team play characters dressed in black that the player meets during the course of his travels. “Since we had to shoot outdoors and only in cloudy weather conditions, only a small team could be ready to jump into the car at any time with all the equipment and costumes and go for a shoot,” points out the director. “It was an adventure every single time.”
Graphic designer Caroline Robert then created the visual elements and the animated character before superimposing them onto the live action footage. During the experience, the character moves from the real black-and-white world to a dream world where trees are made of watercolours and the path is made of chalk.
“Jusqu’ici” is a comprehensive experience. It is also a musical work that was challenging to create. “The shoot was epic. We wanted natural sounds, but it was impossible not to capture the sound of an airplane, a car, agricultural machinery or even mosquitoes,” says Philippe Lambert.
As a first-person narrative, “Jusqu’ici” is truly a subjective experience.