'We Wait:' Aardman Relays the Refugee Experience

"It's very challenging but the potential for telling stories in VR cannot be underestimated."
Publish date:

"The virtual reality experience 'We Wait' was developed by Aardman Animations in collaboration with BBC to have a user simulate what refugees have to go through while they wait for a boat to cross the Mediterranean. The viewer acts a bystander, watching a Syrian refugee family waiting for a boat to travel from Turkey to Greece," explains

Zack Palm


Virtual Reality Recreates the Journey of a Refugee

"We Wait" is


’s first interactive VR production and the subject matter is more hardhitting than what the studio is traditionally known for, meaning every aspect of the project involved far more research and experimentation than a typical production. The creative team spent a long time immersing themselves in stories about refugees and migrants: their experiences before, during and after they make their way to Europe. The technical team had to experiment with the motion capture equipment and figure out the best way to portray all the characters within the restrictions of the project.

"Using VR as a medium was immensely challenging during the production, both creatively and technically, but became invaluable as an experience for extending our narrative skills," says

Darren Dubicki

, director at Aardman. "It was clear that a simple concept was essential – not only in terms of story but in scale of production and design as this emerging medium still has its processing limitations on what could be created and viewed in real time. So it forced us to think less has to be more. With this in mind, we created a film style and tone that, we feel, benefitted from these limitations."

"We Wait" producer

Ben Curtis

says of the opportunities for storytelling in VR: "It's very challenging but the potential for telling stories in VR cannot be underestimated. Storytelling is about capturing the imagination and leading people through a journey, but it's hard to keep control when your audience is in the world you've created, to some extent you have to let go and let people experience things in the way they want to. It's still very early days and there aren't really too many tropes or conventions yet, so it's an extremely exciting format to work with."

Aardman and BBC Research & Development Release "We Wait"

"We Wait" is available





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