HOME PAGE: Experimental Animation (SXA)

A film by Stephen X. Arthur (5:30, 35 mm, 1998)


"Metamorphosis so organic and visceral you completely forget a computer was ever involved."

Five years in the making. Three years of production time.
80 paintings by the late Jack Shadbolt.

Transfigured premiered in the Official Competition of the Hiroshima '98 International Animation Festival in Japan (director in attendance), followed by the Official Competition of the 1998 World Film Festival in Montreal and the Ottawa '98 International Animation Festival. A reviewer of the 1998 Vancouver International Film Festival said:

"The real standout is Transfigured, Stephen Arthur's astonishing celebration of Jack Shadbolt's paintings. In six minutes flat, the computer-aided animator brings 80 tableaux to wide-screen life, achieving a degree of plastic beauty previously obtained only by NFB superstar Norman McLaren."-- Mark Harris, The Georgia Straight: Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly, Oct. 1998

"This film is a true work of art. It's a masterpiece." -- Jack Shadbolt, April 1998



Earlier Reviews
Festival Screenings

"The soundscape for Stephen Arthur's film reminds me of Jack's energy. The crashes, the cymbal sounds and the eeriness, this kind of mysterious force of life -- that's what Jack was all about. The seeds, the pupae, the bursting energy of growth, and the transformation. The energy of life is really what his subject was, and of course that life has a darker side, but he had a very yea-saying imagery and even the dark side was positive." -- Xisa Huang, 1998, co-owner of Bau-Xi Gallery, which represented Shadbolt for almost 30 years


Stephen X. Arthur is an experimental-animation filmmaker in Vancouver working with digital photo-based hybrid media.  Starting on this film way back in 1994, Arthur pushed to the extreme the limits of 2-D, paint-based, bitmap animation on an old, pre-Pentium PC -- a technique resembling traditional cut-out, painting-on-glass, and cel animation. Much of the work was reconstructing the missing backgrounds behind the cut-out foreground objects. By using a causal chain of actions, and by matching forms and actions between paintings, it appears as though we are inside a contiguous environment, a surreal world made from Jack Shadbolt's paintings. The events are carefully choreographed in three- and four-second movement phrases, with corresponding synchronized sound effects, to help the viewer follow the fast flow of unusual transformations. The result is that viewers have been "caught, as by a magnet or a whirlwind," which is the state in which Jack Shadbolt painted his symbolic abstractions.  

 History: Transfigured began as an independent production by Stephen X. Arthur, released in 1996 and screened worldwide, entitled "Touched Alive".

 Titles and Pictures of the Paintings Used


How to buy Transfigured on video 

The video release from the National Film Board of Canada is a compilation entitled "Transfigured: Jack Shadbolt Inside the Mind," which includes a 26-minute documentary, "Jack Shadbolt - Metamorphosis", in which Shadbolt demonstrates working with the imagery from his book Act of Art. Also includes lesson plans for art teachers.

The Canadian price for private home use is about $20. Pay $20 more and you get rights for classroom use and public performance providing no entry fee is charged. USA prices may be slightly different. 

To order, call toll-free:
1-800-267-7710 (Canada)
1-800-542-2164 (USA)
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat & Sun 10am-8pm, Eastern Time
Sales & Customer Service at NFB Headquarters in Montreal
Order number:
C0198 108
(not available for sale online)

International Sales Information: (514) 283-9439
Distribution offices outside Canada are in London, Paris, and New York
Visit the NFB
Collection page for Transfigured.

"Transfigured," 1998, 5:30, 35 mm
Conceived and Directed by Stephen Arthur
Animation and Sound Design by Stephen Arthur
Music & Sound by Jean-Luc Perron
Produced by George Johnson
Associate Producer: Stephen Arthur
Executive Producer: Svend-Erik Eriksen
National Film Board of Canada