Jane Goodall, whose work was recently featured in the Brett Morgen documentary “Jane,” is pushing the boundaries of wildlife conservation once more, this time by backing a virtual-reality nature reserve.
The Wild Immersion is the brainchild of Adrien Moisson who, having ditched a career in marketing, came up with the VR reserve as part of a wider plan to develop social, economic, and ecological projects with conservation at their core. “I wanted to transport people into the wilds of nature, to captivate people in order to inspire them to take action, to reconnect people with nature with the aim of funding real nature reserves,” he said.
Moisson sought out primatologist Goodall and the institute bearing her name as partners. “Adrien was passionate in saying he has made his money but now he really wanted to focus on conservation and the natural world,” Goodall said. “We first met at Heathrow where I first saw the technology while sitting in the airport. And then after that, the next time was in Paris when he recorded an interview with me.”
Electronics company Lenovo, which has its own Mirage Solo headset that works with the Google Daydream VR platform, is the technology partner. The Wild Immersion team shot footage of animals in the Amazon, Australia, Canada, Colombia, and Sri Lanka. There was also filming in China, where discussions are underway to get the Wild Immersion experience into malls, zoos, and theaters.
Three 12-minute VR experiences emerged from 120 days of filming: Terra, set in tropical ecosystems; Alba, filmed in polar habitats; and Aqua, which goes beneath the waves.
The Wild Immersion team showed off the VR content at the Cannes Film Festival last month. The first films are playing at Forum des images in Paris. A distribution deal is in place with VR specialist Diversion Cinema.
Goodall is the subject of scores of documentaries, but she said that VR takes viewers beyond a regular TV experience and maybe even beats being there in some cases. “It’s totally different, actually, to TV because the animals are walking around. You can turn around him follow them. It’s extraordinary,” she said. “You probably see more than people who go on tours with cars.”
The aim of Wild immersion is to raise funds for five new nature reserves over the next three years. The first parks will be in India and Tanzania.