World renowned publications like TIME Inc haven’t been shy about embracing VR and 360-degree video for their newest content, and rightfully so. The immersive storytelling platform opens doors for interesting and emotionally impactful content. The work of park rangers is largely thankless, but National Geographic’s Documentary Film division has announced a new project honed in on their mission in the Congo. The feature debuted at Tribeca and it will be a VR first for two big Hollywood talents.
The Tribeca film festival, which has expanded its VR presence to the full length of the festival, will be home to the VR short film The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes. “National Geographic has been protecting the planet for 129 years and inspiring others to do the same through text, photos, videos and, increasingly, VR,” says executive vice president of digital product for National Geographic Rachel Webber in the press release for the announcement. “The Protectors transports audiences to the heart of the ivory conflict, witnessing the battle between destruction and preservation firsthand.”
The feature will be helmed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow and two-time Emmy nominee Imraan Ismail. Ismail has contributed to visual effects for films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 7 and is a part of the specialist creative group HERE BE DRAGONS, a team who most recently crafted a 360-degree feature that ties into the Scarlett Johansson-led film Ghost in the Shell. Bigelow is known for her incredible work as a director for Zero Dark Thirty, a film that chronicled the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards for The Hurt Locker. Both bring a great deal of expertise to The Protector and it’s encouraging to see such prestige related to VR content.
If you’re attending Tribeca, the feature can be viewed at the virtual reality arcade at Tribeca. If you miss out, on May 1st it will be released on the Within VR content platform which is available for free on Android, iOS, and Oculus Home. Be sure to take a look at coverage for other VR cinematic features like I Am Because of You from Impact Network and a VR tie-in for Wesley Snipe’s new film The Recall.