Nancy Lee

VR Dance Film

VR 360 Dance FILm

Tidal Traces


Artistic context

Captured offshore on intertidal mudflats near Vancouver, Tidal Traces is a collaboration between new-media artist Nancy Lee and choreographer Emmalena Fredriksson. The two merged their practices through a year-long artist interdisciplinary Dancelab residency at The Dance Centre to explore the opportunities VR offers for viewing and experiencing dance.

In a traditional stage presentation, the conventional separation between audience and performers places constraints on the intimacy of the experience. Dance films allow for a closer, visually more dynamic experience of movement—as well as possibilities of breaking continuity, time and space—but there is still a divide between viewer and performer, and the performance happens in a different time and space than the viewing itself. So it can lack the physical empathy and immersion of senses that comes with watching live dance.

With Tidal Traces, Nancy and Emmalena aim to surpass these limitations and blend the best of live performance and dance film, placing the viewer viscerally in the middle of a real-time experience in a way that has not been possible previously.

Shooting 360 video

Given how central the relationship between choreography and camera/audience is to Tidal Traces, camera tests began in a rehearsal studio to gauge dancer distance, dancer rotational position relative to the audience’s start position, and camera height.

Shooting 360 video in ocean water revealed several corresponding issues. Despite consulting tide charts for optimal timing and choosing a location specifically for the expansiveness of its tidal flats, there was no way to avoid rising and falling water levels. As such, the crew only had a few minutes to shoot before needing to pick up the rig and find a new suitable location.

Additionally, with 360 video there is nowhere to hide the production team. Being a kilometre offshore made this even more challenging. So for each take, the production crew had to run to the horizon and lay flat in the water. The dancers were the only line of defence if the camera tripod began to tip, or if the 25-pound external camera battery—buoyed by its waterproof casing—floated into the shot.



Tidal Traces is a stereoscopic 360 video captured with the GoPro Odyssey camera and stitched with the Google Jump platform, which generated the 8K footage and depth-maps used to create this 3D virtual reality dance experience.

Editing and colour correction were done using Adobe Premiere Pro. Rotoscoping was achieved using Mocha VR’s stereoscopic tools along with depth-map mask compositing and nadir/zenith hole patching in After Effects.

Working with 8192 x 8192 resolution footage was a data management and processing challenge. Even with 2K proxies, it was impossible to edit with real-time playback, so footage had to undergo long renders before it could be evaluated for timing and pacing.

Spatial audio was designed using Reaper and the Facebook Audio Workstation plugins. Multiple audio formats were generated to accommodate different delivery platforms. The binaural audio was encoded in 1st-order AmbiX as well as 8-channel TBE and 2-channel head-locked stereo.


creative team

  • Director - Nancy Lee
  • Choreographer -  Emmalena Fredriksson
  • Dancers - Lexi Vajda, Zhara Shahab and Rianne Švelnis
  • Technical Director - Olivier Leroux
  • Picture Editor - Nancy Lee
  • Sound Designer - Kiran Bhumber
  • Music “Submergence” composed by Kiran Bhumber
  • Title Design - Eli Muro
  • Costume Designer - Adam-Lin Bungag
  • Hair and Make-up Artist - Min-Jee Mowat

national film board of canada

 production credits

  • Executive Producer - Robert McLaughlin
  • Producers - Nicholas Klassen, Robert McLaughlin
  • Creative Technologist - Vincent McCurley
  • Project Manager - Laura Mitchell
  • Production Coordinator - Jasmine Pullukatt
  • Production Assistant - Richard Wilson
  • Studio Administrator - Carla Jones
  • Marketing Manager - Tammy Peddle
  • Publicist - Katja De Bock
  • Web Marketing - Kathryn Ruscito


  • January - PuSh Festival public presentation workshop
  • February - 360 Choreography Development workshop
  • June - New Media & Movement workshop

For more information about Tidal Traces, please visit the NFB website.