Acclaimed director Kathryn Bigelow, known for works like Zero Dark Thirty and her recent release Detroit, has waded into VR territory with a short documentary. The film, created in partnership with National Geographic, follows African park rangers tasked with protecting elephants from ivory poachers.
The film begins in a lush grassy plain. The viewer floats above a herd of elephants and then follows a group of park rangers. A minute into the film, gunshots are heard. This moment really shows off how VR is working for the story, because the viewer needs to look around to locate the source of the gunshot. The use of audio cues to direct the viewer’s attention is an important part of the film and ensures that the storytelling relies on the viewer’s ability to immerse themselves in it through VR.
Virtual reality and documentary filmmaking would appear to be a match made in heaven. Filmmakers of any kind want to immerse their viewer in the world in which their story unfolds. This is especially important for documentary filmmakers because they have an obligation to represent that world as accurately as possible. We hope to see more great VR docs like this one in the future.