New VR Documentary Highlights Effects of Oil Trade in Nigeria

Virtual reality (VR) and 360 degree video has already proven its worth in enhancing traditional broadcast entertainment and provide a more empathetic, immersive experience. Now we’re getting a brand new VR documentary which will make full use of VR technology in order to deliver a powerful message.

oil in our creeks

Contrast VR is Al Jazeera Media Netwrok’s immersive studio, and have today released their second full length documentary, Oil in Our Creeks. Its second in a series of original documentaries that take viewers closer to cultures and people who are under threat from poverty and conflict.

Directed by Contrast VR’s editorial lead Zahra Rasool and co-produced by Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation, Oil in our Creeks was painted and animated by VR artist Angela Haddad of One Third Blue.

Following the story of Lessi Phillips, the documentary tells the story of how a Shell pipeline under the Niger Delta burst in her village when she was on 16, pouring oil into the swamps for 77 days. Local fisheries and farms were ruined, and sent the community into a serious economic crisis. Ten years later, Phillips shows viewers the long term damage that such disasters can have on the environment and local communities, but also how it can be fixed.

Amnesty International is partnering with Contrast VR for the launch. Osai Ojigho, the director of Amnesty International Nigeria says; “For decades Shell and other multinational corporations have directly contributed to the devastation of the land and livelihoods of the people who live in the Niger Delta. Oil in Our Creeks allows viewers to grasp the havoc wrought by oil spills on Niger Delta communities. I urge the companies’ executives to watch this film to better understand the community’s plight.”

Rasool shares her thoughts surrounding making the documentary for VR devices; “We wanted to find a new way to retell this important story. We divided the 360-degree screen into 180 degrees of live action footage and juxtaposed the other 180-degree section with animated versions of Lessi’s recollections, detailing what the village looked like before the oil spill. We immersed audiences deeper in the story so they could powerfully experience the scale of devastation in the community.”

The documentary will be viewable on Al Jazeera English Online, AJ+, Contrast VR, Vimeo and on Amnesty International social channels. It’ll also be viewable on Viveport, Jaunt and Samsung in February 2018. For all of the latest news for impactful VR documentaries, make sure to keep reading VRFocus.