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National Geographic to launch its first virtual reality documentary

One of the world’s leading natural world broadcasters, National Geographic Channel, recently reveled that it’ll soon be launching its first virtual reality (VR) documentary short film. The documentary will premiere ahead of World Ranger Day, called The Protectors, which exposes the reality faced by rangers protecting African elephants from ivory poachers.

The film, according to a report by Rapid News TV, will showcase a day in the life of one of the rangers, giving viewers the opportunity to experience the dangers that rangers face every day, and also to experience being in the presence of the incredible elephants that they protect.

The VR film will be co-created by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and VR creator Imraan Esmail (The Displaced), in partnership with Here Be Dragons (formerly Vrse. works), a “pioneer in VR spherical filmmaking”, and also Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures (Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustle).

According to National Geographic, The Protectors builds on the commitment to helping viewers familiarize with the horrific realities of poaching which plague some parts of Africa. By use of virtual reality, viewers will be immersed in an interactive experience, connecting to elephants and the rangers in a profound way that highlights an increasingly delicate issue.

“We want to bring exceptional content that is emblematic of National Geographic to viewers everywhere and are proud to collaborate with the talented Kathryn Bigelow and Imraan Esmail along with Here Be Dragons and Annapurna Pictures on our first foray into the doc short form space using VR technology,” said Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production. “This film will take viewers to the front lines alongside Nat Geo storytellers in the hope that we can change their perception on ivory through this powerful virtual experience.”

Kathryn Bigelow added: “I can’t stress enough how we still need to do so much to fight the devastating effects of the global illegal ivory trade and I made this film to shine a light on the heroic park rangers who are our front line in this battle.” She added: “The VR technology is a perfect way to take you into their day-to-day lives and highlight their passion and commitment to the vitally important work they do.”