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National Film Board Follow Up

A few months back I worked on a project for the National Film Board of Canada and I was pretty excited about it.  I did a blog post at the time about my history with the NFB.  Well now that project is completed and released.  It is called One Millionth Tower (or 1MT) and it recently had its world online premier at  It is a film/website built with new open source technology, webGL, and not all computers can load the 3D version. If you load up the most recent version of firefox, chrome or, if you are running a mac with Lion, Safari you should be good.

I did the sound design for the film within the website, that kind of acts as the sites focus point.  It is a short that is kind of an animated documentary about the residents of a public housing highrise and their dreams of how the building could be transformed into a positive environment.

The music was composed by my friend and extremely talented musician Jim Guthrie.  If you like the music in the film, he just released a crazy album made entirely with a Sony Playstation.  The album is pay what you can, listen to it here.

Below is a press release, if you have a moment to go to the website click here to  check it out.


The HIGHRISE re-imagined

One Millionth Tower is the result of unique collaboration between apartment residents, architects, animators, filmmakers and web developers to re-envision what a declining highrise neighbourhood could be.  Through a close collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation – Mozilla, developer of the open source Firefox browser and a pioneer in promoting openness, innovation and opportunity on the web, the HIGHRISE team has created a lush visual story unfolding in a 3D virtual environment. Visitors to the online documentary can explore how participatory urban design can transform spaces, places and minds.

One Millionth Tower re-imagines a universal thread of our global urban fabric — the dilapidated highrise neighbourhood. More than one billion of us live in vertical homes, most of which are falling into disrepair. Highrise residents, together with architects, re-envision their vertical neighbourhood, and animators and web programmers bring their sketches to life in this documentary for the contemporary web browser -- one of the world's first HTML5/webGL documentaries.

And it's got music composed Jim Guthrie with a sonata by Owen Pallett.

Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, says One Millionth Tower ”is a prime example of the work we are doing together to empower makers and build tools that anyone can use to make awesome things happen — on the Web and in the world. It's a testament to how we are building a better Web together.”

One Millionth Tower places you in the three-dimensional world of a run-down highrise neighbourhood, where, if you access it with a webGL enabled computer, you can interact with the environment and see it re-imagined as a lively, flourishing community. (If you do not have a webGL enabled system, you can still watch a non-interactive video capture of the documentary play out in a virtual 3D space.)

Additional features include:

• a behind-the-scenes documentary about the collaborative process behind One Millionth Tower

• a short documentary featuring international examples of tower revitalization

• a short documentary exploring the open technology used to create the project

and a spectacular interactive feature, World of Highrises, that takes you to highrise neighbourhoods in more than 200 countries in the world, thanks to Google Streetview and satellite imagery. It's based on our own original research to find and understand highrise communities around the globe. Visitors can submit their own highrise tower to be included in this unique visual database.

One Millionth Tower is a story with global implications about how, with the power of imagination, we can transform the urban and virtual spaces that belong to all of us.

The team behind One Millionth Tower includes director Katerina Cizek, Senior Producer Gerry Flahive, 3D Creative Technologist, Mike Robbins (for Helios Design), Music Jim Guthrie, Owen Pallett, Sound Design Timothy Muirhead, Animators Lillian Chan, Howie Shia, Kelly Sommerfeld, Technical Director Branden Bratuhin, Associate Producer Sarah Arruda, Community Media Project Lead And Creative Associate Heather Frise, Community Media Liaison Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam, Highrise Residents Ob, Faith, Priti, Jamal and Donna, Lead Architect Graeme Stewart (for E.R.A. Architects),  Executive Producer Silva Basmajian and many more.

Our previous HIGHRISE project, OUT MY WINDOW, won a Digital Emmy Award, IDFA’s first-ever Digital Storytelling Award, and many other international prizes.