Search form

Keep it in Motion - Classic Animation Revisited: 'Notes on a Triangle'

Every Wednesday, Chris Robinson takes a look at short animation films. Today: Rene Jodoin's classic NFB short, 'Notes on a Triangle' (1966)

'Notes on a Triangle' by Rene Jodoin


Notes on A Triangle (1966) is considered by many to be Canadian animator and producer, Rene Jodoin’s masterpiece. Made at the National Film Board of Canada, Jodoin examines the geometrical possibilities of a triangle. A single triangle splits and rotates into a variety of different shapes and colours. The music plays a pivotal role here in taking Jodoin’s work beyond the pedagogical. The waltz-inspired fiddle music of Maurice Blackburn adds a lightness to the film that lures the viewer far from the very precise and logical constructs and into a world of seemingly random bursts of colour and shapes. It is this ability to displace delicate morsels of complexity under the guise of visual and aural candy that makes Jodoin’s work so magnificent. 

One of the lauded moments of Notes on A Triangle is a brief zoom that occurs midway through the film. During this zoom, the shapes continue to expand and move about. With computers today that would be trivial,” notes animator, Pierre Hébert.  “but doing this with cut outs on an old camera is really an accomplishment.”

Says Jodoin (who died in 2015), “There was a notion of something going on forever. There were maybe ten zooms, but you are conscious of one. The whole thing was designed exponentially, so that you compensate for that fact that you are approaching a flat thing, you are actually moving in space.”

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.