NFB readies launch of final ‘Highrise’ chapter

The National Film Board of Canada is to launch the final chapter of its interactive doc series Highrise on June 2. (Pictured: 'Universe Within: Digital Lives in the Global Highrise')
May 28, 2015

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is to launch the final chapter of its interactive doc series Highrise on June 2.

Titled ‘Universe Within: Digital Lives in the Global Highrise,’ the last installment marks the end of a seven-year project for documentarian Katerina Cizek, producer Gerry Flahive and the NFB, which first launched the series - which has resulted in a number of mixed media, interactive doc and live projects – in 2009.

‘Universe Within’ takes participants to 18 cities around the world and provides first-person accounts on how people seek to connect to one another online. According to a release issued by the NFB, “‘Universe Within’ takes us into the apartments, hearts, minds and computers of vertical, or highrise-dwelling, citizens around the world to reveal the digital human condition in the 21st century.”

The project – which was created in collaboration with University of Toronto researchers Deborah Cowen and Emily Paradis, as well as Toronto- and LA-based digital agency Secret Location – evokes intimate conversations between the viewer and host avatars, who are scripted and filmed in 3D point cloud data. Users are guided by the avatars, who ask questions about the roles of ethics, emotions and empathy in digital, vertical worlds.

According to the release, “the result is a unique and personalized work that challenges our comfort in using digital technology to meaningfully engage with others, including those constructed solely of pixels.”

‘Universe Within’ is accessible on all devices, with an enhanced version available in WebGL for an in-browser 3D desktop experience.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.