DEFINITION June 2019

FEATURE | WOMEN I N C I NEMATOGRAPHY

JANNICKE MIKKELSEN

Jannicke Mikkelsen is a 3D film and VR director, inventor, engineer and designer who is proficient in science and space languages, and works with cutting-edge technology in the field of visual communications. Born in Edinburgh and raised in Norway, Mikkelsen now lives in Greenwich, London, close to the GMT observatory. Her father, a physicist, taught her computer programming when she was three years old. When she was ten, she fell off a horse and woke up from a four-month coma a quadriplegic. Her mother, who was a nurse, cared for her at home for five years. At 19, she trained in the Olympic Park in Utah, evolved into a professional speed skater and won a bronze medal. After finishing

ABOVE Jannicke Mikkelsen was the stereographer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

She continues: “I would like to see more people, girls and women especially, learn coding and not be afraid of it. More females are getting into disruptive technology and augmented reality these days. Coding isn’t that difficult. Website building, programming small computers, game design or creating small scripts are all simple ways to get into this.” As for her own taste in films, Mikkelsen likes those that deal with moral dilemmas and challenge our perception of technology. “What do we do when technology gets smarter than us? Will it control us or we control it? I’m particularly concerned about data protection. We see how Cambridge Analytica used accumulated data against the same people who provided that information. This is dangerous, and it threatens our democratic institutions. How vulnerable are we as human beings? As a society? “Whether we’re in film or journalism, we have a responsibility to alert the public and show them how this can bring us down. In an entertaining way, these high-tech films can get that message across. I am familiar with tech companies collecting powerful data for national security services, but the general public doesn’t understand it and are not taking it seriously enough,” she explains. As issues of security, data protection and control of our

her exams, she graduated with a Masters degree in Cinematography in 2015 from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) “to further my career towards becoming a 3D filmmaker, but the first job, they confused 3D with VR and therefore I had to immerse myself into that,” she explains. For VR the Champions , Mikkelsen had to create a 3D, 360° image and prove the concept for the immersive concert film. So she invented a 3D, 360° VR rig for the rock group, Queen. She explains: “We used a lot of space technology – the sensors are set up like space stations, and we also used rocket science in the stabilisation of the rig designed to fly around the arena like a spaceship.” Mikkelsen also worked with Sir David Attenborough at Atlantic Productions. “We were doing VR before anybody else,” she says. “David understood it completely, he was doing feature-length black & white film before anybody, then colour film, digital, 3D feature documentaries and then VR.” Mikkelsen also built a VR installation for the Apollo Celebration Gala at the Kennedy Space Centre called the Lunar Window, and she is the technical director for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which is taking place in Times Square on 20 July. “I am helping with The People’s Moon,” she explains, “which is a campaign run through the Aldrin Family Foundation where everyone can submit their dream and be part of the Apollo legacy.”

democratic institutions get more critical, Mikkelsen doesn’t believe the film community can remain passively on the periphery. I would like to see more people, girls and women especially, learn coding

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