The team used photogrammetry, virtual reality, and motion capture to create the daughter who passed away in 2016.
Death is a reality that nobody can escape and we all are in some way ready for that. But, something that we can never prepare ourselves for is losing a child. For any parent, the loss of a child is undoubtedly akin to living a nightmare.
And, this is exactly what the family of seven-year-old Nayeon has been experiencing since 2016, the year she died after being diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). It is a fatal disease that causes severe hyper-inflammation because of the uncontrollable production of white blood cells. What started as a common cold led to Nayeon’s demise in a few weeks, leaving the family in great distress.
Meeting You is a Korean language documentary that has been making headlines of late due to its somewhat eerie but novel approach to provide some kind of solace to the grieving mother Ji-Sung. Aired by MBC, a South Korean broadcaster, the documentary not only recreates some of the fond memories of Nayeon but the makers went a step ahead and recreated Nayeon so that her family can say their final goodbyes… one last time.
The team used photogrammetry, virtual reality, and motion capture to create the virtual Nayeon while Ji-Sung had to don a wireless adapter, HTC Vive Pro, and Vive trackers to meet the virtual version of her late daughter. To ensure that the mother-daughter meeting remains as real and believable as it can be, the team behind Meeting You even recreated the same park that Nayeon frequently visited with her family.
The mother of four, Ji-Sung was taken aback when Nayeon asked her a few innocent questions, such as if she was scared or why it was so cold. Nayeon even asked her father to stop smoking and told her sibling to not fight, a moment that even melted the hearts of those watching this documentary.
Reportedly, the South Korean startup Vive Studios worked day-and-night for eight months to create a virtual Nayeon including her facial expressions and voice tone. They also copied the park where the family usually went because that was the place where Nayeon’s birthday was celebrated when she was alive.
Watch the video below:
Despite that it presents a rather innovative use of VR, using the emotional distress of a grieving family for the sake of generating viewership certainly raises ethical concerns and cannot be termed a healthy way to cope with grief. Even more worrisome is the probability of this becoming a trend. Some startups have already started recreating deceased celebrities.
What do you think about this kind of use of VR? Can it help in overcoming the trauma or can re-traumatize the deceased’s family? Give us your feedback.