With 10+ years experience, I have been involved with many immersive experiences, spanning the web, virtual reality, augmented reality and experiential installations. Here's a more detailed breakdown of some of my recent projects, and a glimpse behind the scenes for each of them.
A TILT BRUSH STORY.
This imagined letter is written in the form of a monologue, delivered by a Syrian father to the son lying asleep in his lap, on the eve of their sea crossing to Europe. The film was created by The Guardian VR team working with Anrick Bregman.
Narrated by the Bafta-winning actor Adeel Akhtar, who takes the role of the father, Sea Prayer reflects on the city of Homs, a devastated war zone where he grew up and which he is being forced to leave behind with his son. Hosseini’s piece also meditates on the dangerous sea crossing that lies ahead.
Sea Prayer was illustrated in Tilt Brush by Liz Edwards, who composed the 360 image as a kind of Chinese scroll, which unfolds around you. The Tilt Brush image was post-produced by So When? studios. Music was composed by Sabha Aminikia and performed by David Coulter and the Kronos Quartet.
People continue to attempt this journey, many losing their lives in the process. Since Alan’s death, at least 8,500 refugees and migrants have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
A virtual experience of autism.
The Party allows you to enter the world of an autistic teenager, Layla, who is at a surprise birthday celebration. You will hear her thoughts about what she is experiencing and how it is affecting her, and share the sensory overload that leads to a meltdown (an intense response to an overwhelming situation).
It is a powerful first-person perspective on the challenges that social situations may present to someone onthe autism spectrum. The Party is The Guardian’s latest VR film, co-directed by Shehani Fernando and Anrick Bregman. It offers a glimpse of how a person on the autistic spectrum copes with a stressful environment.
The Party is based on a concept by the author Lucy Hawking and is written by Sumita Majumdar, who drew on her own experiences as a person with autism in similar social situations. Throughout the film, viewers hear Layla’s thoughts, voiced by the autistic teenager Honey Jones. The visual effects were done by No Ghost, grading by Kai van
Beers at MPC, and ambisonic sound design by Richard Nathan.The storyline was developed after extensive focus groups and interviews with people on the autism spectrum as well as with input from the National Autistic Society, the Autism Research Trust and the University of Cambridge Autism Research Centre.
A VOLUMETRIC GAME ABOUT FORENSIC SCIENCE.
It’s 2am and there has been a murder. You are a trainee forensic investigator on duty. Can you gather the right evidence to solve the crime? A forensic crime scene manager will guide you through the
process,from examining the body to avoiding DNA contamination. Crime Scene is a volumetric interactive experience designed for the Daydream headset.
To create this piece The Guardian VR team worked with Nicola Davis, the Guardian’s science reporter, who interviewed several forensic experts, including specialists in bloodstain pattern analysis, soil and digital forensics – 95% of crimes leave a digital footprint. We then created a fictional scenario based on the science.
Working together with ScanLab Projects, the team created a volumetric scan of a crime scene recreation, on a location in London, and then transformed the visuals into a 3D model using photogrammetry. This allows the player to move freely, examining objects from every angle, and interact with the environment.
Crime Scene was made in-house at The Guardian. The project was co-directed by Nicole Jackson and Anrick Bregman. The script was written by Nicole, and Joe Dunthorne.
Sound and music were especially important in creating a mood as well as giving viewers a sense of the space they are in, with ambisonic atmos-loops from neighbouring apartments and outside.
AN ATMOSPHERIC VR SURVIVAL GAME.
Storm (暴雪VR) is a Virtual Reality survival game, available in both English and Chinese. Storm is a game about identity. I worked closely with an amazing team at UNIT9 to get the first episode up and running.
Storm evokes our primal instincts - survival. You find yourself stuck outside of a small hut, in a severe snow storm. As you slowly move forward a bigger question rises: who are you?
Storm is a game about identity, and about destiny. Storm lives somewhere between a film and a game. We were inspired by the visual beauty of extreme environments.
an aesthetically beautiful but deadlyexperience where your body is pushed to the extreme. The beautiful, cinematic weather elements in the game were all built in Unreal Engine.
We were inspired by real, yet extreme situations. Something that is unlikely but you could encounter in real life . And the visual beauty of extreme environments, like a snow-storm. That’s where the idea came from, an aesthetically beautiful
but deadly experience where your body is pushed to the extreme.We wanted to make something that doesn’t live clearly in either the film world or the games world. So if you like films, it can be a film. But it’s also a game that you play with your hands and your brain. Storm lives in between.
With Storm we are interested in exploring how we make use of objects in a virtual environment in a natural way. Early on we discovered that sometimes it’s just satisfying to do normal things in VR like sliding a door or throwing a rock. So we built the game around the interactions: it’s as if the objects in the game tell
you a story by how you use them. The main character in Storm is voiced by the amazing Tommie Earl Jenkins and his role in the story is not just as the protagonist, his voice also provides you with real-time voice feedback when you progress through the game.
A DAY-IN-THE-LIFE VR FILM.
The Return is a VR film created by Matter Unlimited, and directed by ANRK, featuring ChildFund International. We were invited to make a film about their work, and went out to India to capture a day-in-the-life of Annapoorna, one of ChildFund’s brightest sponsored children, using 360° gear.
The ultimate goal of the film was to teach people about the daily reality of child protection issues, which affect many children of all ages.
The resulting film is a powerful 360° VR experience, allowing viewers to explore this pocket of the world at their own pace. We meet Annapoorna, who’s a living, breathing example of how ChildFund comes to the rescue of children when they are young, and how their help can improve not just one person, but many by extension.
A CINEMATIC VR EXPERIENCE.
Seat asked ANRK to make a 4d Virtual Reality experience about the powerful cultural link between the Seat brand, and the city Barcelona. I worked with Ogilvy Spain, and Wildbytes, to make this idea come to life. It was important for this experience to be live action, it could not be CGI.
But at the same time, the core brief was that the camera would be ‘flying’ through the city of Barcelona, showing the most iconic locations, constantly in motion, as the viewer is chasing a real life Seat Ateca.
To create such a flying feeling using live-action 360° cameras was a real challenge. Technically and logistically. We created several custom 360° rigs to make it possible.
And the end goal for this project was to create a 4D experience where the chair you’re sitting in is synced-up with those camera’s movements.
We filmed in the most iconic locations in Barcelona, using custom-built high-end 360° camera rigs, made with GoPros as well as Sony A7 DSLRs.
We mounted those rigs into drones, backpacks, and used them to create seamlessly smooth moving skateboards shots that give you the feeling you’re flying.
A VR FILM ABOUT WATER POVERTY.
ANRK directed a 360º split-screen VR film for Water.org, to be premiered at Sundance Film Festival. The charity project sheds light on the challenges that come with not having clean drinking water, showing someone’s life before and after they have water access.
Our film explores the many ways that access to clean drinking water can improve people’s lives. Instead of spending hours every day to find water – often contaminated – families can do the washing at home and cook much more safely. They are far less likely to suffer from malnutrition. And a source of clean drinking water, which so many people take for granted, is even related to higher school attendance.
The unusual technique of fusing two 180º domes together helps capture two sides of the story and combine them into one visual, exploring a person’s day to day life from two different points in time.
This method highlights the contrast that lies at the centre of understanding the impact water can have. Users can rotate their heads to the left so that their entire field of vision is the “before” story or rotate their heads to the right to go for the “after” story and see the full-frame.
THE MOST NORTHERN PLACE.
A WEB DOCUMENTARY SET IN GREENLAND.
The Most Northern Place is a simple but powerful web documentary about a small town in Northern Greenland. It tells of a clash of cultures and a conflict of territory set during the run-up to the Cold War, and the forced the relocation of the Inuit population native to the town of Thule by the U.S. Army, circa 1953.
It was picked up by PBS to be featured as part of POV DOCS Interactive Shorts.
Visitors to the website take small steps to explore an empty village and it's surrounding landscape; it is a place that is devoid of people, a beautiful but unforgiving environment. The viewer discovers what happened in Thule step-by-step through the real memories of the people who lived there.
The memories are set alongside empty spaces, creating an unsettling experience which plays to the power of the interactive story. The story unfolds itself gradually, it is as if you’re wandering around the town of Thule yourself and you’re gradually getting a sense of the memories that will linger there long after.
The final chapter features a WebRTC radio that mimics the CB communication used by the majority of rural inhabitants, back in the days before the internet or satellite communication. The radio on the site projects visitors voices to other users and allows them to share stories of their own.
At its core The Most Northern Place is a human film, about human events. It isn’t about the Cold War nor about the U.S. Army. The narrative deliberately doesn’t take sides.
We wrote The Most Northern Place to be ambivalent purposely. It never suggests clearly what the good and bad sides of the story are. We felt that the issues it addresses are quite complex, and the Inuit's own opinions on the subject are divided in their community.
The website was designed by Ruben Feurer, and together we discussed making an experience that would unfold itself gradually.
Under the hood, The Most Northern Place is a fully responsive HTML5 website that blends in WebRTC technology to create a truly immersive experience on both desktop and mobile platforms.Working with Luisa Tatoli from Roll Studio, and lead Developer Luigi de Rosa we went through several iterations of the project, exploring the creative and technical direction that felt right. It took us a few tries to get it right.
The music was composed with a similar ambivalence in mind. Alex Kozobolis scored The Most Northern Place to provide a soundtrack with depth and feeling, but without trying to suggest how viewers of the film should feel.
The new Prius is the perfect getaway car. We set out to prove just that, with three technology experiments, each invented to show off a different feature of the car. Each of the experiments involved a complex mix of technological challenges and all visual effects had to be done in-camera, without any post-production effects.
ANRK partnered with Lexus and Team One in LA to create “Elevate,” a cinematic VR experience starring Christian Vande Velde, who talks about his love for cycling, his life experiences, and ‘why he rides’.
Viewers see the world from Christian’s perspective, as he rides through a 360º view of the iconic mountains in Malibu.
ANRK teamed up with The Royal Shakespeare Company to launch a new app starring famous actors, a rapper and a beatboxer to bring Shakespeare to life for 11-18 year olds. The Android app, called RE:Shakespeare, features interactive games and videos and is hosted by RSC ambassador, David Tennant. It also features actress Tamsin Greig, beatbox artist Shlomo, rapper and poet Akala, and RSC director, Iqbal Khan.
FIND YOUR WAY TO OZ
A Google Chrome Experiment, directed by ANRK for Google and Disney. It allows you to take an interactive journey through a Kansas circus. You are swept up by a massive storm which leads you to the land of Oz. In this project our goal was to combine the richness of cinema with the technical capabilities of the browser to create a fun, immersive experience that users can form a strong connection with.
Mother London have long positioned the Stella Artois brand with the cool side of classic French cinema. For their latest campaign they wanted to bring on-board immersive theatre innovators Punchdrunk, to work with ANRK to combine an immersive mix of real-life cinematic theatre and online interactive storytelling.
An epic collaboration with legendary director Koji Morimoto of Akira and Animatrix fame, and Studio 4°C, equally legendary Tokyo animation studio, to create an interactive film that would discourage teens in France from smoking. The result is the worlds first interactive anime, and allows the viewer to be an active part of a traditionally animated short film.