An Unattainable Truth — 3D Reconstruct of the Death of Chow Tsz Lok

Country/area: Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Organisation: Stand News

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 13 Nov 2020

Credit: K.K. Rebecca Lai, Stephanie Yeung, Leung Man Ki, Helena CYC

Project description:

On November 4 2019, college student Chow Sze Lok fell off the third floor of a parking lot at the scene of a protest and later died from the injuries suffered. Chow became an iconic symbol of the Hong Kong protests that began in 2019. A year later, a hearing was called for the cause of Chow’s death. Before the start of the hearing, our team created a 3D model and reconstructed the scene from that night, along with video footage, information from media reports and police briefings, to provide readers with a better understanding of the night’s event.

Impact reached:

The circumstances around Chow Sze Lok’s death have always remained a mystery. Even though there were hundreds of protesters, police officers and other emergency workers at the scene of the protests, no one saw how Chow fell off the parking lot building. The security company also released hundreds of hours of footage from the parking lot surveillance cameras, which didn’t capture the critical moment of Chow’s fall.

There have been major rifts between Hong Kong people and the police since protests began in 2019. Surrounding Chow’s death, the police have made multiple statements that were later disputed. For example, the police claimed they did not enter the parking lot before Chow’s death at 1 a.m. that night, but later, CitizenNews revealed footage that showed that riot police had entered the parking lot earlier at 11 p.m. The police also claimed that there was surveillance footage showing Chow entering and exiting an adjacent building but refused to release the videos. 

Our project served to sort through the trove of information from that night and highlight the unanswered key moments around Chow’s death. The 3D reconstruct also allowed readers to better grasp the layout of the parking lot and where Chow, the police, firefighters, EMT and other key locations were. 

Techniques/technologies used:

We used the open source software Blender to create the 3D model of the parking lot and used Adobe After Effects to render a video that flew through the scene. We also used Adobe illustrator to create overlay highlights for the video. We used javascript to build the interactive page that played the 3D model video with text and video footage.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Building the 3D model and the interactive page involved a lot of technical problems that pushed the extent of our expertise. It was also difficult to piece together what happened through the vast amount of information from that night, while missing details from key moments. But we felt that it was an important task to draw a picture of the information that was available and highlight the unanswered questions, considering the significant role that Chow Tsz Lok’s death played in the Hong Kong protests. 

What can others learn from this project?

This project taught us a lot about challenging ourselves. We were able to accomplish something that was technically new to us through a lot of trial and error. It was also an important lesson in constructing a narrative through a lot of different sources beyond just the official account of the event. 

Project links: