"The 2009 Golden Nica Winner Computer Animation/Film/VFX is -
Iriz Pääbo / National Film Board of Canada
" Having carefully explained the importance of narrative and the emphasis on the tools in service of the art, our selection of HAAki by Iriz Pääbo may come as a surprise. However, if the viewer makes a careful analysis of the piece, the kind of narrative that Iriz Pääbo engages is an intensely subjective and synesthetic encounter with the people of Canada's love for the game of hockey.
" The four-minute short describes the game play first by setting up the magic circle of the game as the title of the film blasts off into a tumbling overhead shot of the rink. We are introduced to a thick bed of sounds out of which moments of the game emerge: skates slicing the ice, the referee's whistle, the puck swishing from stick to stick, the roar of the crowd punctuated by a melodious or strident victory air-horn blast. The muffled announcer's voice becomes the main musical line of the composition.
" We do not need to know exactly what he is saying; what is important to hear is the physical excitement of his ululations. Iriz Paabo then visually illustrated the sound track with animated image layers of the rink, the computer-animated hockey players and the crowd. When the pitch of the announcer's voice rises and the crowd roars, the entire screen is infused with coded sound visualizations of different hues and textures that have been algorithmically synchronized.
" What develops is a personal and subjective experience of moments in the game. At times we switch from being the fan with a third-person view to the first person perspective of a player. The player's subjective point of view is radically inverted;the ice becomes a multicolored rainbow ocean, and where the crowd should be is a black void; only amorphous representations of players in red or white race by with disorienting speed.
" Although abstract, the experience comes full circle as the play is won and the crowd roars and we are flipped back to the third-person point of view of the crowd in the stands. The narrative is clear and extremely simple. The transitional conventions are set up and repeated so that we understand where we are at all times. The story of the game is easy to follow because we are completely immersed in it.
" The use of the combination of tailored design of the hockey players, the rich dimensional sound track and the interspersed visualizations give viewers an experience that is truly subjective as well as being a homage to the hockey game as Canadian cultural iconography."