What is the Unknown Photographer?

This hybrid documentary takes participants on a journey through a virtual reality filled with the fragmented memories of a First World War photographer. 

The surrealistic stroll through a museum is set in a 3D universe featuring otherworldly structures and encounters with allegorical characters. A unique experience that invites viewers to question the power of images and the ravages of war.

Discover the multi-award-winning experience on the oculus store

Our Process

We started working on The Unknown Photographer in 2015.
It was our very first VR project.

It presented us with multiple challenges. First, the technology being relatively new, the team learned a lot about it. Plus, the authentic photos were in poor conditions. Some of them came from the first Kodaks used by soldiers during the war. 

Working with these challenges, we really wanted to evoke strong emotions through multiple worlds and state of minds of our protagonist.

A lot of the art and geometry were inspired by art movements that evolved at the beginning of the 20th century. The overall ambiance was a way to pay tribute to the pictures we had in hand.

Here are some of the ambiances we set-up.

The Industrial war
We sketched the first ambiance we imagined:
a strange, empty but yet heavy industrial environment.

Then, we created animatics to validate the landscape and the navigation. Basic shapes were used. For instance, in the animation below, trains and chimneys are made up of cubes and cylinders.

Excerpt of the final experience

The Combat

For this theme, no landmark, no floor but an unsettling environment.
A puzzle for the mind. 

In this animatic, we tested ways to reveal photos
and navigate inside the "cubes of cubes". 

Excerpt from the final experience

The Destruction

In these sketches, we emphasized the desolation and emptiness. It was truly important for us that the spectator felt there was once something here. Something that was decimated following a brutal event.  

Without using many shapes or assets, we tested ways to demonstrate those feelings.
Fog and particle system were used to amplify them.


Excerpt from the final experience

The Death
A very heavy atmosphere was necessary when the narrator starts talking about death. We brought the spectator to two extremes of anguish; feeling confined in dark spaces and feeling small in infinite landscapes. 

In this animatic, we tested ways to present the photos. The objective was to reveal them in a flash of lightning that would freeze in time​​​​​​​.

Excerpt from the final experience 

The Unknown photographer was created by

Co-Produced by

and with the support of

If you want to learn more 

The Unknown Photographer | Turbulent Lab