Way to Go, a VR-friendly walk through the woods

Shortly after we were musing on the state of storytelling for emerging virtual reality platforms here on Motionographer, the National Film Board of Canada released Way to Go, a 360-degree virtual walk through the woods — filtered through a sheet of LSD.

As you pilot a block-headed, hand-drawn avatar through the experience, you can pause to examine the world around you, sometimes triggering a strange tunnel vision effect that shifts your perspective to a first-person POV. During the seemingly endless journey, the world oscillates between black-and-white live action and a colored, lo-res digital mode.

Rift-friendly, not Rift-only

Although it’s a browser-based experience, Way to Go is compatible with the Oculus Rift (via WebVR) and was presented as a VR installation at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier showcase this year. This dual-channel viewing model is an interesting move and could be a helpful bridge over the VR distribution gap currently facing the world.

The AATOAA team: Caroline Robert, Philippe Lambert, Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit, Vincent Morisset

The AATOAA team: Caroline Robert, Philippe Lambert, Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit, Vincent Morisset

Using what he learned directing multiple interactive music videos for Arcade Fire (Neon Bible, Sprawl II, Just a Reflektor), director Vincent Morisset and his AATOAA studio seem to favor psychedelic experimentation over linear narrative. Pulling that off requires a surprising amount of real-time processing.

83 custom shaders change lights, grain and visual effects in real time while thousands of sounds are live mixed and synced to user interaction. The music score itself is generative, responding to your pace as you amble (or fly) through the forest.


Creation: AATOAA
Directed and shot by Vincent Morisset
Music and sounds: Philippe Lambert
Creative coding and technology: Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit
Animations, drawings, macro videos and costumes: Caroline Robert
Rotoscopy and tracking: Brandon Blommaert
Additional masking: Gregory Kaufman
Texts: Sean Michaels
The characters in the video are Philippe Lambert, Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit, Vincent Morisset & Caroline Robert
Shot in Mauricie, Eastern Townships, the Laurentians and on the Mount Royal.
Made in Montreal in 2014

Executive Producer: Hugues Sweeney
Head of Production: Marie-Pier Gauthier
Head of Technologies: Martin Viau
Editorial Manager: Valérie Darveau
Administrator: Marie-Andrée Bonneau
Production Coordinators: Dominique Brunet, Caroline Fournier & Perrine Bral
Clerk, Interactive Productions: Angel Carpio
Marketing Manager: Jenny Thibault
Assisted by Karine Sévigny
Information Technology: Sergiu Raul Suciu

Press Relations: Nadine Viau & Melissa Than
Technical Coordinator: Mira Mailhot
Sound Recording: Geoff Mitchell
Legal Services: Christian Pitchen

Boris Razon, Voyelle Acker & Cécile Deyon
Production Administrator Sandrine Miguirian
Communication Officer Antoine Allard
Technical Advisor Emmanuel Souillat

Special thanks to Antoine Avril, Sach Baylin-Stern, Marc Bell, Andre Bendahan, Henri Bernadet, Matthieu Beaumont, Mario Bouchard, Monique Bourdon, Marie-Ève Brisson, Isabelle Brouillette, Frederic Chamberland, Victoria Catherine Chan, Marc-André Chaput, Chloé Fortin, Piero Frescobaldi, Aaron Koblin, Catherine Leduc, Jean-Guy Morisset, Jérémie Morisset, Paul Morisset, Ravenne Portail, Claudette Raymond, Yves Renaud, Chris Robertson, Dominic St-Amant, Laurence Simard, Monique Simard, Serge Simard, François Turcotte, Unit9, David Valiquette.