"Today’s storyteller yearns for a sharper and more precise tool by which to power the machines of empathy. Virtual Reality is that tool." (About Here Be Dragons)
Some journalists, storytellers, and artists have embraced virtual reality as the most effective tool to plunge viewers into an authentic experience with story content. They argue that the immersion VR offers tugs more readily at the heart of empathy than other storytelling mediums, such as television or long-form articles. VR video production studios have been popping up regularly within the last few years to ride the crest of this emerging tech. One of the most prominent, educational, and empathy-driven studios is Here Be Dragons.
Founded in 2014, Here Be Dragons calls itself an experience studio, where innovators craft important stories in VR, generally to spread awareness about a particular issue or group of people, or to teach an immersive lesson. Named after the medieval practice of illustrating dragons over uncharted areas of maps, Here Be Dragons refers to unexplored territories, and its projects continue to push the boundaries of human storytelling capabilities.
Immersive Projects Made with Hope
One of the studio’s recent projects, "The Protectors: A Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes," was made in collaboration with National Geographic and depicts a day in the life of a ranger protecting animals against poaching in DR Congo’s Garamba National Park. Another, "The Last Goodbye," portrays an interview with a Holocaust survivor, the first ever filmed for VR. Here Be Dragons also recently collaborated with the United Nations to film "Clouds Over Sidra," a film documenting the life of a 12-year-old Syrian girl living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
By creating these immersive VR stories, Here Be Dragons hopes to educate, spread awareness, and build empathy. Their projects have won numerous awards, including Emmys, Cannes Lions, and a Grammy. While the territory of VR filmmaking is still unfamiliar and leaves much room for exploration, it seems certain that studios like Here Be Dragons are paving the way for new forms of storytelling that might just change the way we experience and understand the world.Image: via Here Be Dragons