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A VR animation project on immigration and displacement. More info on the  Dislocation project by Veljko Popovic and Milivoj Popovic.

Both Veljko Popović and Milivoj Popovic are a creative Croatian duo, who can happily alternate between cinematic studies of memory (Dove Sei, Amor Mio), anxiety-driven characters (Planemo) and sea breeze artistic fun (Cyclists).

Getting a lot of awards for their 3D computer animated films (watch them in the Prime Render and Bonobostudio Vimeo page), they now embark on a different, VR project: Dislocation, presented (June 2020) as a Work In Progress at the Annecy Film Festival.

The 8-minute VR project (also a short film in the making) tackles a deep, time-sensitive topic which, through the Mediterranean, affects the whole of Europe.

This film takes a look at an absurd moment of disbelief and fear. It examines the internal processes that develop and offers a visual depiction of a person forced into extreme circumstances – a moment of dislocation. We follow the protagonist through the beach in Greece, desert of Texas and forest of Slovenia and journey into his mind where the memories of his lost home slowly decay.- Synopsis

"Those represent the focal points of the migration crisis in our eyes", Veljko Popović and Milivoj Popovic tell Zippy Frames. "Of all of those, the Balkan forest is the one closest to our home and it refers to the Serbian-Slovenian-Croatian borders ,where our country was confronted with the human suffering and tragedy of the migration crisis".

An unnamed protagonist comes in each of these spots, coping with the reality of his situation. He turns, looks, hides. He searches or tries not to be found. He is hunted by an unseen force, an unnamed enemy (sometimes in the form of a dancer). The viewer moves from one scenery to the other by looking inside the protagonist, moving the headset inside the head of the character that stands there, in front of him. This transports the viewer first inside the mind of the protagonist, and then to the next location.

Watch the trailer and the Annecy 2020 Presentation

Virtual reality places us in direct contact with that moment of human tragedy, such as a refugee crisis. We are taking a subject that has deeply affected us emotionally and are creating a fictional theatrical setting, almost performance like, to deal with our emotions regarding this matter. All in an effort to try and understand more deeply what happens in a terrifying moment of being dislocated - in face of complete uncertainty - Veljko Popović and Milivoj Popović

Veljko Popović and Milivoj Popović collaborated with various humanitarian and refugee organizations to collect refugee stories. Some of those ended up on their web site where they invite people to discover the reality behind their fiction; others will be used by the performance artist that will accompany the installation and the VR experience.

Fittingly for the project, the VR installation is a tent, typically found in refugee camps (approx. 3 square meters). The floor inside the tent is covered with soil, there are some small personal items scattered here and there (sleeping bag, cooking pan). The VR headset is situated in the middle of the tent. A performance  artist sits in front of the tent, next to the entrance, preparing food, making tea and telling stories; each day the artists tells a single personal story to the visitors who enter the VR environment.

Motion capture was used for both actors (main character and the dancer), but the data was interpreted using 3D computer animation to create a visual that speaks to the state of mind of the protagonists and creates a unique visual experience. Unreal was used to create the experience which is viewed on the HTC VIVE headset.

The project has a 100,000 EUR budget; while the VR experience is finished, the Croatian directors will need funds (around 15-30.000,00 EUR) t translate the project into a film for theatrical screenings);a smaller investment (3-5.000,00 EUR) is also necessary to finalize the installation of  Dislocation VR project - a set and a performance artist.

What about COVID-19? "Our plans for distribution and festival premiere was foiled and we were forced to rearrange and reconsider our plans", Veljko Popović and Milivoj Popović state.  "At the moment, we are waiting for the results of the Venice film festival and news if there will even be a festival, and also from OIAF where we applied the film.  We have plans for exhibitions and gallery distribution, but those are on hold for the present moment".

Zippy Frames Sneak Preview (V. Kroustallis)

Dislocation looks both highly contemporary and personally visceral VR project, which aims not to describe or analyze but enter the world of a single person facing a smaller or greater personal dislocation. The Croatian directors certainly know how to fragment space itself (think of Planemo) to represent a soul torn apart, and they even deconstruct a human being itself (like the old lady in Dove Sei, Amor Mio). Dislocation pushes this tendency to the extreme, and promises a challenging but informed and affective journey.

Dislocation, Veljko Popović, Milivoj Popović 2020 / 7'45” / Croatia, France
VR project | 2D, 3D animation
Scriptwriters, directors, designers:Veljko Popović, Milivoj Popović | 3D modelling lead: Milivoj Popović | 3D modelling and animation: Božo Balov, Gordan Mihalec | 2D artists: Mario Vrandečić, Božo Balov | Technical director: Dalibor Aljinović | Assistant to the TD: Darko Kokić | Actor, dancer, motion capture: Alen Čelić | Choreographer: Nikolina Dolfić | Sound design, sound mix: Boris Stanić | Music composed and performed by: Thomas Cappeau
Producers: Veljko Popović, Milivoj Popović | Co-producers: Patrick Hernandez, Veronique Siegel | Production: Prime Render Studios | Co-production: Bagan Films
Distribution: Bonobostudio | With the support of: Croatian Audiovisual Centre, City of Split, Epic Games Inc, SACEM

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