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Arts and Entertainment

Video: See A Skid Row Artist's World In Immersive Virtual Reality

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A new VR film depicts Los Angeles' Skid Row through the eyes of local artist Ramiro Puentes in immersive virtual reality. As Puentes fills his canvasses and walks the streets, viewers can hear him tell not just of his past or his present, but also of the future he paints for himself with his art.

RYOT Films and Chideo partnered on the Artist of Skid Row, which first premiered as a VR experience at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and was released online Thursday.

"We wanted to tell the story of Skid Row in Los Angeles through Ramiro's eyes, and that's really where the project came from." Haley Jones, an executive producer on Artist of Skid Row and VP of Strategic Partnerships for the Charity Network, Chideo’s parent company, told LAist.

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(Video still courtesy of RYOT)
Tyson Sadler, the film's director and Director of Special Projects at RYOT, told LAist that his biggest goal with the piece was to humanize the homelessness crisis in L.A.

"It's a very marginalized community within Los Angeles," he said of Skid Row. "Los Angeles as a whole has roughly 50,000 homeless people at any given time and Skid Row itself is a 52-block area of downtown where homelessness is very centralized and we wanted to really bring the viewer into that space. I think that using VR as a technology and an immersive means could best convey our message," Sadler said.

"For this particular piece, we really felt that VR would make it resonate in a way that you couldn't do with traditional filmmaking," Jones told LAist.

RYOT and Chideo worked with the Lamp Community, a nonprofit that serves Los Angeles' homeless community, on the piece.

"They really served as our guide to that environment, so that we could try to capture Ramiro's life without being intrusive to the community. At the end of the film, you'll see Ramiro surrounded by art, and that's actually his art that he created with Lamp's support, and we filmed at Lamp," Jones said.

According to Sadler, the filming itself was done over two days and the VR was captured using seven different cameras that were all facing in different directions.

Artist of Skid Row will make its Los Angeles debut as a VR experience at the Downtown Film Festival.

To learn more about Lamp Community or invest in their community arts program to help artists like Ramiro Puentes, visit their website here.

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