“I followed the logic of this universe to adapt my traditional film to virtual reality” - Adriaan Lokman (FLOW VR)
A world premiere on the island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, FLOW VR is the new film by Adriaan Lokman, a multimedia director noted for his previous films - including a first traditional version of FLOW in 2019 or BARCODE, awarded the Grand Prix for short films at Annecy in 2002. Meet an artist with a passion for digital discoveries, whose first foray into VR is in Official Competition at Venice Immersive 2023. Produced by Valk Productions and Lucid Realities, distributed by Unframed Collection.
From the origins of digital animation
Adriaan Lokman - I graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam in the 80s with a degree in illustration and audiovisual design, and was the first to use a computer for my final project. Digital technology has always been one of my preferred media, enabling me to build and modify my projects without necessarily starting from scratch. I've worked on a number of commissioned and institutional films, mostly for the professional world - with my own studio in particular. At the beginning of the 2000s, I moved to France and started working in the artistic field again.
A. L. - With this in mind, I submitted one of my first films, BARCODE, to festivals in 2002 - with unexpected success, notably at Annecy, where I won the Grand Prix for short films. A further sign that I was ready to move to France! Since then, I've continued as a freelance artist, producing and directing my films, installations and now virtual reality. I work on projects that may combine animation, projection or other techniques: each time, my intentions are very hybrid, interweaving the virtual and the real.
A. L. - I'm very open to new techniques, to the latest technologies, in order to create. VR was a logical way to continue discovering digital media of expression. You can use it to create worlds that are ultimately very close to the real world, with a great deal of freedom of expression (visual...). It was a real challenge for me, where I had to combine my desires with an approach that was very close to the viewer. FLOW (see the making-of) was an ideal project for this initial approach: in the end, the VR project was more convincing than the "flat" film! Particularly on the question of the enormous depth given by the dark background and the definition of the graphic universe.
Adapting the short film FLOW into virtual reality
A. L. - FLOW VR is 80% the same story as FLOW, with obvious modifications to adapt the work to the medium. Above all, I wanted to respect the same rendering, adding the techniques I used to recreate this "aerial painting". And I had to re-evaluate camera movements and so on. Fortunately, with a headset at home, I was able to test a lot on my own, experiment (with Cinema 4D and its X-Particles plugin that I had to adapt for 360 production) - anticipating motion sickness issues in particular. I didn't think I could impose too many camera movements in this direction, and yet I was able to find solutions every time to reproduce what existed in 2D for VR.
A. L. - Considering camera movement in VR can produce an undesirable effect (motion sickness), and nobody wants that. I finally found a solution by incorporating counter-movements in certain sequences to "stabilize" the image (particularly in relation to the horizon). I wanted to create a sensation of flying over certain sequences without jerking, which becomes very pleasant for the viewer.
A. L. - VR was a real discovery for me. And an exploration of a new medium that encouraged me to look for the best possible quality for the project - similar to the quality of a cinema film. We can go for sensations or representations of the physical world that will make us believe that it can be real - characters, environments... The possibility of dressing up the environment in 360 degrees was a real temptation, especially when you're working in animation, but quickly the question of the viewer's gaze, of his or her attention to be captured, was very much on my mind. We had to make sure we didn't lose him in the story - sound was also a great tool for thinking about this.
A. L. - I wanted to maintain a narrative logic in this virtual reality project, and not lose myself in the medium. The world of FLOW has its own logic, so all I had to do was follow it to recreate it in VR. It also has its own visual style (minimalist, abstract or realistic at times), which helped. The possibility of working on dimension and depth really inspired me. And it gives me ideas for the future, in terms of being able to reproduce these universes with these new intentions...
Working music and sound design with the wind in mind
A. L. - The music and sound design - provided by my friend Erik Stok - were very important in creating a lighter universe than the very dark visuals would suggest - complementing Samy Bardet's sound design work. We work in close collaboration throughout the production process. As soon as I started working on the images, we started thinking about the music. For the sounds, I did a lot of research to come up with a model from the very first drawings. We finalized everything with Côme Jalibert (Poly Son Lyon).
A. L. - For the future, I'm thinking about future immersive projects. With or without helmets, to open up all possible horizons... I often take several years to finalize my projects, and current technologies evolve very quickly. So I keep a close eye on these subjects, to make the right choices. After FLOW and a desire to reflect on air and wind, my next work will certainly be on water. Or how to make the invisible visible...
FLOW VR - Credits
Written and directed by: Adriaan Lokman Music composer: Erik Stok
3D Animation, 3D modeling, particles, rendering, research, special effects, compositing and storyboard: Adriaan Lokman
3D Animation: Bastiaan Hooimeijer, Seline Werff (Happy Ship)
3D Modeling: Marlon Regien, Martin Venema (Happy Ship)
Rigging and additional 3d character animation: Polder Animation
Sound design: Samy Bardet (Syma Sound design), Erik Stok, Adriaan Lokman
Mix and sound spatialization: Côme Jalibert (Poly Son Lyon) Musicians: Erik Stok, Koen Schouten (Saxophone)
Produced by: Valk Productions Producer: Richard Valk
Assistant Producer: Eline van Hagen
In co-production with: Lucid Realities
Executive producer: Chloé Jarry
Head of production: Alexandrine Stehelin
Production assistant: Clélie Chassignet
Production intern: Maxime Goletto
Production administration and accounting: CLPB MEDIA
Distributor: Unframed Collection
Director of strategy & development: Alexandre Roux Technical director: Julien Déïs
Head of acquisitions & partnership: Victoire Thevenin Marketing & sales coordinator: Sara Fatucci
With the support of: The Netherlands Film Fund, Creative Industries Fund, PROCIREP-Société des producteurs, ANGOA, Région Auvergne-Rhône- Alpes