Immersive Documentary

“Very Frustrating Mexican Removal” is an immersive, verbatim 360° documentary about Canadian immigration detention system. The artwork employs the practice of Verbatim Theatre and techniques and technologies of 360° Cinema




Independent Project

Project Type

Immersive Experience


Producer - Director


3D Artist:
Shawn Mitford
VFX Artist - Compositor: Ergin Sanal, Ian Amaya, Emmanuel Sanchez
Sound Design/Mixing: Andor Sperling;
Lucia: Isorine Marc
Voice-Over Artists:
Alexander Masters
James Hanemayer Rosa: Sofia Silva
Deputy Sheriff: Gerry Corway Unit Rep: Laura Vandiver CBSA Officer: Leah Mertz

“Very Frustrating Mexican Removal” is generously supported by Trinity Square Video, a not-for-profit artist run center in Toronto, Canada.

Selected for
RIDM International Documentary Festival (Montreal); i-docs (Bristol); VRHAM, Virtual Reality and Arts Festival (Hamburg);
Regent Park Film Festival (Toronto), and
Split Film Festival (Split, Croatia)


Making the stories visible through the mechanics of generative art

Based on the joint report of Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch Canada published in 2021, we created a generative experience to share the lived experiences of people who went through Canadian immigration detention system throughout the years.


Despite its reputation as a refugee-welcoming country, immigration detention is a national problem that all activist groups, NGOs, academic, legal and healthcare institutions in Canada has been fighting to fix it over a decade. Canada incarcerates thousands of people on immigration-related grounds every year, including people who are fleeing persecution, those seeking employment and a better life, and people who have lived in Canada since childhood.

Based on the joint report of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Canada, "I Didn’t Feel Like a Human in There: Immigration Detention in Canada and Its Impact on Mental Health" published on June 17, 2021, we created an interactive experience that is informative and visually unexpected leveraging the mechanics of generative art.


Most of the testimonies, quotations and informational text are taken directly from the report. We mapped out all the testimonies and classified based on key themes. For each theme, we identified the concepts that we would like to explore: Being stuck, dealing with unknown indefinitely, isolation and confinement, fear of getting lost and forgotten in the system, being invisible were some of the themes explored. Each theme had an intro opening told by an expert and explanatory text to be revealed for more context.

We did an extensive visual research based on the themes before start coding and some exploratory storyboards as a starting point to give us a frame. The visuals were crafted through explorative sculpting using ThreeJS/WebGL. A shader is written within a theme that enabled more intuitive exploration. Shaders were embedded with a range of parameters that could be adjusted in real-time, allowing us to manually mold a visual's shape wrote.

Once we felt like we were in a good place with core visuals, the sound design process started creating a music for each theme but keeping all exploration under one overarching sound. After the final mix, we adjusted the final visuals playing in real-time disabling, enabling, and enhancing features in the shaders to accentuate major inflection points. The rhythm was critical and it was one of the key criteria for our adjustments while refining the storytelling.

From a UX standpoint the most critical piece was the design of player that cover both the name of the sections and the voice of each migrant who took part.

Another critical part of the experience was to find the right voice-over actors. Thanks to the extensive work of our voice coach, we aimed to honour the region the migrants are coming from.

This year, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta announced that they are ending their agreements with the Canada Border Service Agency to hold immigration detainees in provincial jails.


Mapping the xxxx pages of report

Initial research focused on mapping key themes in the report within the consultation of Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch Canada. The report is structured through three distinct voices: testimonies of immigrants, feedback of experts mostly lawyers and the voices of report researchers who gives the larger context of the system

The initial process was paper prototyping, a kind of a card sorting practice. Printing the report, cutting all the quotes and placing on
my floor

Focus Areas

What are the key themes that needs to be covered


What could be the supporting elements for users to understand the complexity of the context


What is the core UX/UI piece that will help the users the explore the content


How we can make sure that the experience doesn't feel too fractured but works a whole story

Mapping User Interviews

A series of in-depth interviews were then conducted on 5 participants to further identify pain points, frustrations, needs, and desires with existing products to determine how YUM could improve this experience.

Key Takeaways

All participants used a combination of multiple apps to find, save and share restaurants


Users value the ability to customize their settings to curate things that fit their preferences


Major products in the market lack desirable features and feel impersonal, outdated and untrustworthy


A map feature with tags is paramount when searching for restaurants


Too much information on screen makes users feel overwhelmed, they'd like a more curated experience


Irrelevant suggestions feel impersonal and clutter the UI, filters are highly used tools when searching


Carving out a niche in a saturated market

After conducting user interviews, all the participants responses were synthesized to identity themes, opportunities, and features that YUM could focus and improve upon.

Affinity Map

An affinity map was created to identify high level themes and group similar insights gained from the user interviews.

Interview Synthesis

Using the four hues of the SimpleStage identity as a starting point, I expanded the color palette to accommodate the needs of the platform’s complex dashboard system.


A persona was built based on the data collected to help drive decision making and keep the product focused on solving users pain points, frustrations, and goals.


Generative Design

To kick-off the design process, quick sketches helped me get ideas on paper to establish which elements were necessary for each screen. A low fidelity prototype was then created for initial user testing.

User Flow

The primary user flow is the process of searching, saving and sharing with friends.

Site Map

YUM's simple information structure makes it easy to navigate and move through tasks.


Rough sketches were done to get my initial thoughts on paper and brainstorm new ideas for specific UI elements.

Low-Fidelity Prototypes

Using the feedback and insights gained from research, analysis and sketching, a how-fidelity prototype was created to begin user testing.

Usability Study

A usability study was conducted to determine where improvements could be made and identify new ideas to satisfy user expectations, needs, and desires.

Pain Points

Source of restaurant review was unclear


Quick save option not available, had to specify which list to save to


Emphasis on photos made it difficult to find type of food and restaurant ratings

New Ideas

Use color to differentiate YUM's suggestions from a users saved restaurants


Remove multi-step process to find social icons and make immediately visible


Add a moment of delight to let the user know a restaurant was saved

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