National Geographic’s First VR Doc Features Endangered Elephants

April 20, 2017

4:30 pm

National Geographic Documentary Films’ first entirely VR documentary will premiere tomorrow, April 21, at Tribeca Immersive’s Virtual Arcade. Titled “The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes,” the documentary is directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow, who’s rightly famed for “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” but will forever hold a place in my heart for directing the best 90s action film ever, “Point Break.”

The VR documentary will be slowly rolled out to the general public following its Tribeca run: It’s set to be released exclusively on the VR app Within on May 1 and will be available on YouTube and Facebook360 a week later on May 8.

Get Ready to See Elephants Close Up and Personal

The VR documentary will explore Garamba National Park, which is located in the Orientale Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is one of Africa’s oldest National Parks.

The film “takes viewers to the front lines of Garamba alongside the rangers who face constant danger and even death while protecting elephants from heavily militarized and incentivized poachers,” according to its press release.

“It’s ground zero in the fight to save the largest population of elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rangers are the last line of defense in a race against extinction at the hands of poachers slaughtering elephants for their ivory tusks.”

VR Is a Great Fit for Nat Geo

“National Geographic has been protecting the planet for 129 years and inspiring others to do the same through text, photos, videos and, increasingly, VR,” said Rachel Webber, executive vice president of digital product for National Geographic. “The Protectors transports audiences to the heart of the ivory conflict, witnessing the battle between destruction and preservation firsthand.”

Since the goal of a nature documentary is to showcase the setting it takes place in, the inherently immersive format of virtual reality is a perfect fit.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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