"Tierras Lejanas" is a immersive experience that portrays the emotional and psychological impact of child migration on the American border, shown in a dreamlike way from the perspective of Ixchel, a girl with repressed memories of her childhood who only remembers her experience through her dreams.
Tierras Lejanas set out to create an experimental narrative using distinct digital media tools; from traditional animation, 3D modeling, space design and new techniques for immersive illustration to create a blended experience within virtual reality and physical spaces.
This multidisciplinary project was created by Beatriz Benedetti, Bernardo Noriega and Cesira Martínez. We created the script, conceptualization, graphic language, sound design, animation and assembly of the final piece, that exist both virtually and physically.
The mix of different software tools, such as Unreal Engine 4, Cinema 4D, After Effects, Ableton Live, Houdini and Substance Painter, allowed us to define a collaborative production pipeline to design and develop the particular immersive aesthetics for the project.
This video showcase the creative process of the project:
Ixchel is a girl who was forced to leave her home when she was 7 years old. Due to the unsafe and political problems in her homeland, she emigrated with her mother, having to leave her father behind. On their way to the US border, they experience a series of events that Ixchel will never forget.
We did a profound research with professionals regarding PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), dreams and immigration so we could be able to represent the actions in the story based on real information portrayed in a metaphoric way. We explored an immersive cinematographic language by employing a first person perspective on the virtual reality camera, so the spectator observing and living the experience could feel more immersed by the atmospheres in the virtual world.
Character design and landscapes
We created concept art for the characters and the landscape they lived in, which we called “the isles”. Each space and character was meant to embody actions or feelings that Ixchelt felt during her journey.
We took the experience to the physical realm. We set up a dark room, with a chair in the middle and a coat rack next to it for hanging the virtual reality headset. The spectator could sit down and use the googles to experience the virtual part of the story. After finishing the story and removing the helmet, the spectator was given an ultraviolet flashlight to reveal hidden paper fishes all over the room. These paper animals were intervened by child immigrants, who wrote their wishes for their future when they reached the other side of the border.
The flying fish is a character that we created to represent the entire migratory process; the motion, transition stages and the search for better opportunities.
Music and Sound effects
We composed, played the instruments and recorded each soundtrack for every landscape of the experience. The music worked as the medium to communicate Ixchel’s emotions throughout the narrative.
For the sound design, we recorded most of the sounds with professional equipment and edited it on Ableton live to create the atmosphere and the voices of the characters.
Special thanks to:
This project wouldn't have been possible without the help of so many people, so we thank all that helped us make it come true.
Bruno Diaz, Carlos Isaac Gonzáles, Aaron Martínez, Ana Malitzin Cortés, Ana Rosa Gómez, Eduardo Hernández Obieta, Diego Trujillo Pisanty, Beto Olsi, Fernanda del Monte Martínez, Roberto Cabezas, Minerva Denise Balderas, Henry Romero y Eugenia Muratti.
To the interviewed Olaf Benedetti, Michelle Loretto, Camila De la Fuente, and the anonymous child immigrants that help us learn more about the topic.
And to our school "CENTRO de diseño, cine y televisión"