Sensology by Michel Gagné Sensology by Michel Gagné

Sensology by Michel Gagné

Anything Michel Gagné does is worth a post on Cartoon Brew, but a whole new film by him is cause for celebration. His new short, Sensology, visualizes in abstract form an improvised musical session by two leaders of the avant-guarde jazz movement, Paul Plimley (piano) and Barry Guy (bass). The music was recorded on November 9th, 1995, at the Western Front in Vancouver, Canada. A 9-second teaser of Sensology, posted online in the Fall of 2006, resulted in Pixar contacting Michel to do the abstract taste visualization for the film Ratatouille. Gagné tells us:

“The film was started in August 2006 and completed in July 2010. Many months of experimentation with various animation techniques lead to a grant from Art Partners in Creative Development and the creation of the live show Fixed Fragmented Fluid which will also make its way as a film at a later date.

“I’ve been refining the animation over a four year period and finally wrapped it up three weeks ago. The completed 6-minute film premiered in Los Angeles last week, to qualify for an Academy Award, at the Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 in West Hills, CA.”

And now, here’s the finished film:


    Absolutely fantastic! What a marvelous bit of animation. I’d love to see more! A+

  • Paul N

    The soundtrack is the kind of jazz I find tedious to listen to, but for this project it’s perfect. The imagery is fantastic – there were several moments when I thought the image perfectly captured what was going on aurally. Excellent work!

  • Charlie

    That was brilliant!

    You have to wonder how many rejected ideas Gagné had when trying to represent the audio as an image. I can’t imagine this is something that was laid out in months.

  • Wonderful. Fantastic design, tremendous playfulness and a couple of nods to Oskar Fischinger. Michel is superb.

  • Jason

    Michel is awesome! The animation was choreographed perfectly.

  • Excellent. A beautiful and intelligent film. Thank you for posting it. A “cause for celebration” indeed!

  • Michel is truly amazing! I’ll be watching that over and over.

  • Well done. Here’s another jazzimation. Giant Steps by Michal Levy with the music of John Coltrane. More of a 3D housebuilding approach.

  • Miguel

    Genius and not much else.

  • Philip Street

    An interesting comparison is Norman McLaren’s 1949 film “Begone Dull
    Care” ( In that film the imagery is abstract while the jazz music (by Oscar Peterson) is more conventional.

  • Azz

    This is indeed ‘The Tits’ Gagne certainly has a way with simple shapes.

  • Watch it in full screen! It’s mindblowing!

  • Congratulations Michel. A true gem!

  • gatebuilder

    Great work!! The last movement, Hand Held Hot Coals was particularly inventive.

  • Thank you so much everyone. This was a labour of love from day one. By the way, a word about the technique:

    The film was hand drawn with a wacon tablet and later, a Cintiq, using Photoshop. The drawings and frames where then composited and manipulated in Animo. There is no vector at any point in the film (on a bigger movie screen, you can see all kinds of imperfections and textures).

    The animation was done stream of consciousness, one frame at a time at a rate of 30 frames per second.

    Because a film needs to be 24 FPS in order to submit to the Academy, I had to recreate a new master which took quite a bit of creativity and effort. Fortunately the 24 FPS version still looks good and nobody but me will ever see the difference.

    The version posted on the internet is the 30 FPS version, as it is YouTube prefered film rate.

    In closing, I would like to thank Jerry and Amid for their support of the independents, and for sharing their knowledge and discoveries with us.

  • Fantastic work Michel… the only thing that I’d say it needs is to have a seizure warning at the beginning of the film!!!

  • Yes, I am so happy this is finally online. I’ve been patiently waiting ever since i first saw the teaser trailer 4 years ago. Thank you Michel for making saw beautiful work.

  • The Gee

    In anyone else’s hands this probably would have been completely different. Which is cool in and of itself. But, what Mr. Gagne does is just fantastic.

    I could probably write too much about it but I won’t. Suffice it say, it makes sense and fits like a glove with the music. From a creativity standpoint, it must’ve been a fun challenge, too.

    So, congrats on this, best of fortunes with it and thanks for sharing it. It’s an amazing film.

  • The Line and the Dot has met its match!!! Wonderful! Has anyone asked Mr. Gagne to interpret the crop circles? =)

  • Tha Hyena

    Wow, I always loved Gagné’s work… and here’s another masterpiece from this sir. It was really amazing, it reminded me some old animations where they cared so much about music and sincronization with the sounds (I’m talking about shorts similar to this one, with shapes and animation, not characters).
    Another thing I want to point it out is that this video… was like if someone put a camera inside your head while you listened to the music (with eyes closed), I can’t imagine something like this, but it was something close haha (no, I’m not saying I can do something like this, hehe).
    Gagné’s imagination always amazes me!. Thanks for sharing!.

  • Archagon

    Michael, I’m a huge fan of your work, and this is phenomenal. I’ve never seen a more intuitive, visceral depiction of music. Thank you for releasing it for free!

  • man that was really incredible work. I’m not sure if it was After Effects, but looked like a startlingly good use of that program. Can’t wait to see more.