Emergence Lab – Banff Arts Centre

It was a great honour for me to be selected as a technician/artist in support of author Elizabeth Rull for the Emergence Lab at the Banff Centre supported by l’Ambassade de France au Canada, OnScreen Manitoba, de l’Institut Français et du Banff Centre. The theme of the Lab was interactive storytelling and the format included two teams of 3 participants supporting one author participant, supervised by a group of six mentors. I was very happy to meet David Dufresne (below) and the other mentors: Morgan Bouchet, Jérôme Hellio, Sue Mackay and Antonin Lhote, and especially pleased to see the interactive projects that they had realized during their keynote presentations. My credit on the demo below is “Sound Designer”.

Victoria Gibson, Erika Denis et David Dufresne – © Nicolas Bole
Victoria Gibson, Erika Denis et David Dufresne – © Nicolas Bole

Documentation for the project was provided by the final mentor Nicolas Bole who posted four reports to the blog documentaire website. I will not duplicate his extensive documentation here, but we had only a week to work with Elizabeth to develop her ideas and he closely follows the progress of both our team, “Les Tiroir Des Secrets” and Sean Michaels team, “The Seers Catalogue”.

The site at Banff is inspiring and the level of support in equipment and expertise is unrivalled. It was a pleasure to work in an environment where I could completely concentrate on my work without the distractions of daily life.


  • Banff View

Our team consisted of author and photo journalist, Elizabeth Rull from France, plus two artists who were originally from France, but now live in Montreal: Colas Wohlfahrt, an expert in stop-motion and game design, with Carine Khalife an illustrator who has extensive experience with stop motion and Adobe After Effects and Victoria (me) providing the sound. It was a wonderful experience for me to work with a team of excellent artists and concentrate on sound design for the project. I enjoy being challenged, so the opportunity to work in such a supportive environment while trying to match the contribution of the other highly talented team members, encouraged me to do my best.

I had a small studio room so I could set up my portable recording gear (see video by Nicolas Bole above). I brought enough equipment to record dialogue, sound effects and music for the prototype. In addition, the Banff Centre provided a stereo amp and speakers so the other team members could hear the sounds, and a portable field recorder so I could record Elizabeth re-enacting the escape from Hungary in the pool, located in the Sally Borden building at the Arts Centre.


Some of the sounds were provided by sources on the internet, but I was careful to use Creative Commons sounds and make my own whenever possible. I prefer to use sounds that are as authentic as possible because I believe it creates a more realistic environment, so I needed sound from Paris and Hungary that I was able to find on the internet. Thank you to mentors David Dufresne and Jérôme Hellio for the opening dialogue voices and participant James Braithwaite as the voice of the police recorded in Banff. Special mention to French drummer Steve Arguelles of Plush Records for use of his drum sample from Soundcloud in the opening music. Creative Commons sounds in order of appearance: Morse code, French apartment buzzer, Paris street sound, Hungarian crickets, Train station, Restaurant and Public Speech in Budapest, Hungary; Dogs hunting.

I composed the music, played the guitar for the second theme and created and edited the sound clips. Carine Khalife created the final montage that united the sound with the images.

The main language for the Emergence Lab was French, but everyone was helpful and translated parts that I did not understand (special “merci bien” to Erika Denis and Sarah Arcache). I have always romanticized French culture and I have studied the language, but I plan to study conversation rather than grammar now!

We would meet each day with the mentors to report on our progress and receive feedback on our work. The  Emergence Mentors represented the industry well, with a cross-section of expertise in interactive storytelling. They sent us back to the drawing board each day with lots of excellent suggestions on how to make the project more effective. The mentors requested that our final presentation be similar to an industry “pitch” session with one minute for the video that outlined the project, five minutes to talk about the goals and the execution and five minutes for questions. Kolas created a very professional booklet outline of the proposed game format, including method of play, goals, and sources of inspiration for future development shown by images from other published games, printed with copies for each mentor available for the presentation.

Elizabeth Rull’s project prototype “Les Tiroir Des Secrets”

Elizabeth will now take the video and the booklet to the game development industry to obtain development funding or a publisher who will develop the idea. In my opinion, the Banff Centre provided the ideal conditions to produce the maximum amount of work in the least amount of time. I am very proud of my work on this team and I am looking forward to a streaming event that is being organized in Paris with Elizabeth on June 24th to discuss the Emergence Lab — the video from this event will remain on the site and can be viewed here.

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