Doors Open 201830 May 2018 / by Philip Zave Wiseman (author)
For years now, me and my dad have attended Doors Open Toronto. It has always been a great bonding experience not just for our relationship with each other, but also our relationship with the city of Toronto.
This year was no different. On Sunday May 27 we hit a heavy contrast of multi-media production and exhibition spaces that represent Toronto as the diverse cocktail of life that it is.
We started our journey at Ubisoft, an enormous video game producer on the west side of the city. The first thing you notice when approaching the building is the water tower which remains from when the space was part of a massive General Electric complex. The transition of spaces from old to new was a theme that resonated with me throughout the day.
At Ubisoft, we took part in a demonstration of motion capture. While filming, the actors have to imagine the environment around them. It sounds fun and simple, but as adults we don’t generally make use of our imaginations. This is why they are developing augmented reality glasses, which the actors can wear to place the digital landscape over top the actual studio in their vision.
The studio is surrounded floor to ceiling with infrared cameras that bounce light off of little white balls dotted all over the objects and people in the scene. Many objects are custom designed to be a skeleton of a real thing so that cameras can see through them. This leads to industry specific terms like non-occlusive (to not block air or light), a new term that the nerd in me loved to learn.
After Ubisoft, we visited one of the oldest cinemas in Toronto, the Revue Cinema, where they were screening old documentaries about Toronto. The Revue has been around since the 1920s and first showed silent films. Cinemas used to be much more of a hub before personal radios, television and the internet. The Revue once had over 500 seats compared to 237 (much more comfortable) seats that are there today.
The Revue was saved in 2006 by a grassroots local initiative called Revue Film Society. This happened after the death of Peter McQuillan, who was a wealth local film buff who had been taking care of the cinema since the 80s.
After having lunch at the delicious restaurant La Cubana in Roncesvalles, we were off to the still unopened Museum of Contemporary Art on Sterling Road. The beautiful old aluminum factory has amazing views of the city and a gorgeous mixture of a rustic and industrial aesthetic. It is set to open in September and expects to bring life to a recently gentrify-ing area of Toronto. Just down the street from the Nestle factory, you will find The Drake Commissary, and the early stages of development of a wealthy urban artistic ‘bohemian’ neighbourhood.
This ‘emerging’ neighbourhood puts a bittersweet feeling in the air for me, since I knew it during a time when it was an affordable underground artistic mecca. The process of selling neighbourhoods based on the artistic spirit they possess often ironically result in a loss of this spirit soon after it gains attention and the property values increase.
On the other side of the coin, the MOCA looks like it will be an exciting space to fuse art and workshops from established and emerging local talent to be exhibited to an in gorgeous, legitimately impactful setting.
Our final activity of the day was visiting the Film Port Studio, where they shoot Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience. For me, this was the least interesting part of the day as there was little photography allowed and we didn’t get to walk onto the actual sets. But, if you are looking to buy some cheap furniture, go to Film Port, as the hallways are full of old film sets and props for sale.
Overall, Doors Open Toronto is an amazing event in this city. I hope you get to attend or volunteer next year because learning and connecting over cool stuff makes you generally just feel great (plus it’s a great way to bond with a family member or a date).
See all the photos from my Doors Open Excursion in the slideshow to the right.