A father’s dangerous mission to save his son clashes with realness: VR technology as a palliative care program

Based on the story by

Elizabeth Bonesteel




2D animation
Short Films

A father’s dangerous mission to save his son isn’t what it really seems.

We surprisingly got to know Ray and Ando when the online magazine The Verge called us to adapt Elizabeth Bonesteel’s short story Overlay into a three-minute animation short film which would be the last episode of “Better Worlds”, a science fiction series project involving the feeling of hope. When we read Bonesteel’s story, both the VR game’s dystopian imaginary and the whole narrative’s social undertone inspired us and made us feel enthusiastic about the project.

Overlay deals with the revolutionary idea of using VR applications for palliative care treatments. In the story, a brave father, Ray, must face a group of devil guards and weaponed robotic drones in order to bring Ando, his son, back. In the high time of the mission, the plot twist breaks in: Ando appears in a white room next to Ray, who is intubated, lying down on a hospital stretcher. Still waters run deep, just as Overlay’s bigger picture finally conveys its completely human cornerstone.

Character development

Technical approach

Overlay’s short story brought us a powerful creative rush, and we rapidly imagined an immense visual universe for it. Our biggest challenge was to shorten the original story and suit it into a three-minute film. We felt compelled to choose the most relevant information and discard those layers of content that we knew we couldn’t properly develop. Due to this laborious filtering process, we found necessary to optimize the work-flow, so we settled on cel animation, yet combining it with solid 3D backgrounds that would bear a wider sense of space and perspective. The spirit of the short film (read: secret agent action movie) got influences from the sci-fi anime movie classics, hence the retro concept style. The core of the whole creative process was to hit the right mood for the plot twist: cut off the “action movie” type of feeling and turn it into an emotional story.

Rough Animation


Presenting VR applications as healing mechanisms, Overlay is a poetic attempt to break with the unhealthy stigma which is socially associated to emerging technologies. Through a message of hope, this short film displays the positive impact that high-tech could have in humans’ life quality in the near future. 


A film directed and produced by


Based on the story by

Elizabeth Bonesteel




David Feliu
Sebastian Garcia
Jong-Ha Yoon
Karol Szczepankiewicz

Creative Director

William Joel


William Joel

Clean up

Luke Etcheverry
Sergi Ros
Sheila Hattaf
Jong-Ha Yoon
Karol Szczepankiewicz
Demian Garnero

Creative Direction

The Verge


Kyle Stewart


Michael McDaniel


Sono Sanctus

Sound Design

Ambrose Yu

Executive Producers

Eleanor Donovan
Nilav Patel

Supervising Producers

Sophie Erickson

Production Manager

Meg Toth

Editorial Director

Helen Havlak

General Manager

Steven Belser

Network Manager

Sarah Bishop Woods