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Hunger In LA

Hunger in LA is an immersive journalism project by journalist Nonny de la Peña. The project consists of the recreation of a real life event using real audio and environments modeled on real locations. The event featured is a scene at a Los Angeles food bank where delays in the distribution of food resulted in a series of unfortunate events. The project was exhibited as part of the New Frontier exhibition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival which showcases innovative forms of media that go beyond traditional cinema. The following video shows a real time walkthrough of the experience:

The project utilized prototype head mounted display technology developed at the MxR Lab at the USC ICT by Mark Bolas, Palmer Luckey, Thai Phan and Evan Suma. The HMD later evolved into what became the Oculus Rift HMD created by Palmer Luckey. Motion tracking and sponsorship was generously provided by Tracy McSheery of Phasespace Inc. Phasespace was used for both mocap acting and tracking of the HMD in real time. The speed of the system resulted in minimal latency and virtually no dizziness (i.e. cyber-sickness) in hundreds of attendees. John Brennan provided art direction as well as motion capture acting for every character in the scene and editing of all motion capture data.

The project was produced on a shoestring budget and uses characters that were all purchased from online stores or donated. Even with low fidelity characters the combination of mocap animations, real audio, a wide field of view HMD and fast and accurate tracking produced a gestalt effect that provoked strong responses from users who reported a deep level of immersion.

More information on the project can be found here:

Sundance New Frontier:

MxR Lab:

Oculus Rift HMD:

Phasespace Motion Capture:


  • Maya

    • Modeling

    • Texturing

    • Character rigging

    • Applying character mocap animation

    • Exporting

  • Unity 3D game engine

    • All code

    • Effects

    • Audio playback

    • Collision triggers

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