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The Russian war in Ukraine is still raging, and Ukrainians are finding new and new ways to transmit their message to the world. The immersive 3D documentary MURALS is another way for Ukrainians to show the consequences of hostilities on Ukrainian land.

What is MURALS?

The non-profit project was created by ATM Virtual, Mriya, and Pixel Race. Directed by Aggressive, Alex Topaller, and Dan Shapiro, MURALS got the stage for the first time at the Marché du Film, as a highlight of Cannes Next. As a company with Ukrainian roots, WePlay Studios became a partner of the MURALS art project. The WePlay team provided technical assistance and installation advice throughout the project.

MURALS is a documentary art project that highlights the consequences of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. With 3D scans in Unreal Engine experience, the project showcases buildings and monuments evidencing Russia’s crimes.

Using sound and visual 3D effects, the MURALS project transports viewers to war-torn cities, where until fairly recently, civilian life was running its ordinary course. MURALS is an experience brought to viewers via LED screens accompanied by the sounds of military trucks, explosions, and voices, highlighting the human toll of the war. As such, the technical aspects of the project were carefully planned and executed to the highest standards. The newly-developed disguise EX3 server was chosen to deliver the immersive experience, with two 4K outputs running on True Performance 1.8 mm pitch LED panels. L-Acoustics provided top-quality eight-channel spatial audio, bringing the sounds of war and spoken poetry together to form an unforgettable nine-minute immersive experience.

Project background

The project was initiated by Artem Ivanenko, a 3D artist from the town of Irpin, Ukraine. Irpin is one of the first cities in the Kyiv region to suffer the disastrous consequences of the invasion. On February 24, Russia began shelling the city, and on February 27, Russian troops entered it. It has seen tank battles and constant missile attacks. Trying to get through Irpin to Kyiv, the Russian army continued bashing the civilian city for more than a month, but already on March 28, the Ukrainians liberated Irpin. Returning to the city after the withdrawal of Russian troops, Artem Ivanenko recorded the devastating consequences using different scanning methods. Then Spanish-based company Tigrelab transformed the scans into a digital story using Unreal Engine 5, which was then delivered through the disguise EX3 media server and displayed on high-quality True Performance LED screens.

Project planning took a month, and 3D scanning two weeks. A total of 800 visitors at the Marché du Film dived into the nine-minute immersive storytelling, seeing the aftermath of Russian aggression.

Some destroyed buildings feature murals by Banksy, created following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Banksy visited Ukraine in November 2022 and created his murals as a powerful symbol of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. In total, Banksy left seven of his works on the walls of Ukrainian buildings. On a destroyed house in Borodianka, Banksy painted a gymnast doing a handstand, his other works depict children playing on a swing made from a part of a tank, a man taking a bath, and a woman in a dressing gown wearing a gas mask and holding a fire extinguisher.

Each piece is a throwback to everyday life that was destroyed by Russian missiles, telling a deep story. Banksy has always raised sharp socio-political issues. His murals in Ukraine emphasize the consequences of the Russian Federation’s crimes, but at the same time give hope for healing and the restoration of a safe life in the future.

Supporting the Ukrainian cultural activists, WePlay also provided the Dovzhenko League, a Ukrainian-American filmmaking community, with a venue for ongoing meetings and sessions for the community. Now, Dovzhenko League pros can continue to spread Ukrainian voices around the world using the WePlay Esports Arena Los Angeles as a launch spot.