FIVARS 2022 Spotlight – Unframed: Hand puppets, Paul Klee

FIVARS spoke with the developers in Switzerland behind the striking Virtual Reality narrative Unframed: Hand puppets, Paul Klee which uses a multi-level diorama and puppeteering to create a instantly engrossing experience with important socio-political themes.

FIVARS: What led to the creation of this piece?
This is the fourth episode of the Unframed series, dedicated to the discovery of Swiss artists. DNA Studios wanted to work on modern art and tackle a well-known painter around the world.

Paul Klee seemed like a perfect fit. We wanted to try a 6DoF short movie, and puppets appeared perfect for this. It was settled: we’d create a VR theater for Klee’s puppets.

Our objective through this series is to make art accessible, but using only emotion and storytelling. We aim to use artwork as the set-up for its own story. We believe that people do not want to see animated artworks or pure information, but they want to hear and see stories that engage them towards art.

FIVARS: What was the production process for you and your team? What did you learn?
The process was quite hard at a lot of levels. And we won’t even talk COVID there.

The first challenge was to render precisely Klee’s puppets. They are not really accessible, no one is allowed to touch them and they never ever leave the Zentrum Paul Klee (Bern, CH). With the help of the Zentrum, we were allowed to take pictures – lots of them – to start our process.

The second challenge was to create a whole city (a fictional one) where Klee’s puppets could evolve. The city had to be german, but right beside Switzerland. We had to recreate the Bauhaus also, the famous place where Klee taught his art.

Finally, we had to animate puppets in VR, while still giving an “organic” feeling. This feeling is difficult to achieve with traditional animation means. That’s why we used a software that allowed us to animate puppets directly in VR – as if they were, in fact, real puppets.

All puppets were animated by hand – and you’ll see, there’s quite a lot of them. This is a very long process, but it gives a unique touch to the movie.

FIVARS: How did you become an immersive media content creator and why?
“Unframed” is our first VR project. The series now has 4 episodes. Since the first episode, we had the opportunity to work on a lot of projects though.

We wanted to use our art (and craft) to make something meaningful. We love art, we love animation. And we love to work in order to make art accessible.

FIVARS: What is the VR/AR industry like in your region?
Swiss VR is a booming industry, but mostly on the tech side. There are very few people creating movies or art in Switzerland with VR. We have some great meetings too. Come in Crans-Montana some time!

FIVARS: What do you have planned for the future?
We want to make the fifth episode, but this time we hope we can collaborate with a living artist, specifically a woman.

FIVARS: What would you like to share with fellow content creators and/or the industry?
Our love for what we do. Our love for great art and storytelling.

FIVARS: Do you think VR festivals like FIVARS are important?
Yes, they are. Very important. Thank you for your work.

FIVARS: Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for the selection. With love, from the devs of DNA Studios.