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_Use of Force

Recreating the scene of a crime in 3D virtual reality puts viewers inside the grim event as it unfolds again in this powerful documentary experience.

2013 Nonny de la Peña
EN Visit the project

“I’m giving you a subjective bodily experience, but that doesn’t mean that the content can’t be informed by journalistic best practices.”

Nonny de la Peña, Author, in PSB.org blog

In May 2010, migrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was deported to Mexico after 27 years spent living, working, and raising a family in the US. Almost immediately he attempted to sneak back across the border, but he was detained, assaulted, and ultimately beaten to death by border patrol agents. The incident was captured on multiple video cameras. With Use of Force, “immersive journalist” Nonny de la Peña sought to take the experience of witnessing the tragic, brutal event to a whole new level, putting viewers into the moment to heighten their understanding of the event and their empathy for the victim.

While de la Peña has experimented in earlier projects with 3D Immersive World platform SecondLife, for Use of Force she worked with designers and technologists to create their own virtual recreation of the dark, dusty spot at the border where Rojas was killed. Viewers enter the virtual documentary space in a first-person view via a custom-built virtual reality headset. On the scene are recreations of actual witnesses who were powerless to stop the violence despite attempts to save Rojas. Creating the sensation of standing in that crowd, revoking viewers’ agency while immersing them in the gruesome details, makes Use of Force a powerful and visceral documentary experience.

Project at a Glance :

Language : EN
Country : United States
Year : 2013
Author : Nonny de la Peña
Producer : Michael Licht,Vangelis Lympouridis
Team : Alexa Kim,Bradley Hiebert,Domi Piturro,Fotos Frangoudes,John Brennan,Michael Wabro,Nicholas Palmer Kelley,Phasespace,Vitruvian Studios,Wild Woods Inc.
Topics : Immigration
Technologies : Phasespace,Unity,Video
Techniques : Virtual reality
Festivals : Tribeca Storyscapes
Funders AND Incubators : AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship Program,Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund
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