The Shoebox Diorama
Based in The Hague, The Netherlands

Founding date:
November, 2013


Press / Business contact:

Skype: thrillzilla

Diorama No 1 Blocked In
Diorama No 4 Die Fernweh Oper
Diorama No 3 The Marchland
Diorama No 5 Dear Pigeon Man
Diorama No 2 Der Grosse Gottlieb

The Shoebox Diorama
The Netherlands



The Shoebox Diorama is a one man company that creates interactive illustration for virtual reality devices.


Early history

Daniel Ernst is an interactive illustrator based in The Netherlands. After working in the game industry for multiple years he decided to put his research on storytelling through illusions and his love for everything 3D into practice and apply it to VR. This amalgamation resulted in an ongoing series of fantastical dioramas for virtual reality called The Shoebox Diorama. The series now consists of 'Blocked In', 'Der Grosse Gottlieb' and 'The Marchland'. His dioramas have a simple goal of inspiring a sense of wonder. Daniel is currently working on a full length diorama called Dear Pigeon Man.

What is a diorama?

‘The Shoebox Diorama’ is a series of interactive illustrations for VR devices. Each diorama is a fantastical hand painted environment in which interaction and environmental cues are used to tell a story and convey a sense of wonder. The dioramas can be explored as standalone experiences or as an interconnected experience through ‘Diorama No. 0 : Table of Contents’ which serves as a central hub.

Distribution Plans

All dioramas will be distributed on Steam through a The Shoebox Diorama Collection page. Each diorama will be sold separately and can be enjoyed through the free hub diorama ‘ Diorama No.0 : Table of Contents’.



Diorama Menu Navigation YouTube

Diorama No.1 : BLoCKED IN YouTube

Diorama No.2 : Der Grosse Gotlieb YouTube

Diorama No.3 : The Marchland YouTube



There are far more images available for The Shoebox Diorama, but these are the ones we felt would be most useful to you. If you have specific requests, please do contact us!


Awards & Recognition

  • "Official Selection Frankfurter Bookfair" - 2016 - Diorama Project with Opera singer Annina Giere and poet Maud Vanhauwaert
  • "AR / VR Summit Award - Best Interactive Story Nomination" - 2016 - Diorama No.1 - 3
  • "Unity Award - Best Non Game Nomination" - 2014 - Diorama No.1, 2
  • "Proto Award - Best Audio Design Nomination" - 2014 - Der Grosse Gottlieb
  • "Official Selection Vertigo of Reality Exhibition" - 2014 - Akademie der Kunste Berlin
  • "Cinekid Audience Award Nomination" - 2014 - Der Grosse Gottlieb
  • "Creative Industries Fund NL" - 2014 - Dear Pigeon Man
  • "Creative Industries Starters Fund NL" - 2013 - Dear Pigeon Man
  • "Dutch selection Holland Pavillion Gamescom" - 2014 - The Shoebox Diorama as company

Selected Articles

  • "Article about how I use interaction to tell stories."
    - The Illusionists Way Of Telling Stories, Ctrl 500
  • "Article about the art of the virtual reality diorama."
    - Road to VR, Road to VR
  • "At the same time, going through the set of demos Jason had downloaded, I couldn’t help but be impressed by Blocked In, an Oculus Rift demo that gave me a stronger sense of presence than I had ever felt in a VR world, even though, as a player, I could take no action but to look around. "
    - Jesse Schell, Gamasutra
  • "I wish every Oculus Rift demo looked this cool"
    - Yannick LeJacq, Kotaku
  • "There's a lot virtual reality can contribute to the growth of digital art, not the least of which is the exploration of impossible environments."
    - Jess Joho, Killscreendaily
  • "HTC Vive: developers react to Valve's virtual reality headset"
    - Keith Stuart, The Guardian
  • "Top 10 of the best VR experiences"
    - Andy Kelly, PC Gamer

Behance - Illustration Portfolio
Personal Work behance.com.

Team & Repeating Collaborator

Daniel Ernst
Interactive Illustrator, Founder

Misha Velthuis
Music, Freelancer

Nineyards Audio
Music, Freelancer

Teo Tuominen
Fonts, Freelancer

Koen Koopman
Character Modeller, Freelancer

presskit() by Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) - also thanks to these fine folks