Culture

You can experience it live later this month.

This Virtual Reality Documentary Lets You Hang with Jaguars

A little bit of Brazil came to Toronto this past weekend,1 thanks to VICE Canada’s new interactive virtual reality documentary Living With Jaguars. The immersive, cutting-edge doc was on display at a free pop-up at the TIFF Bell Lightbox over the weekend, letting viewers step off King Street and into the heart of the Brazilian Pantanal. No pricey plane tickets or mosquito netting necessary.

Renowned for its impressive biodiversity, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to one of the highest densities of wild jaguars in the world, and the front line for conservation efforts to save the jungle cats. And VICE’s groundbreaking new documentary—which combines immersive Roomscale VR with 360-degree video—lets audiences explore this world first-hand.

Choose a clip and watch as a jaguar comes right up to you (well, the camera anyway).2 But unlike traditional nature documentaries, you don’t just watch Living With Jaguars, you can interact with it as well. Grab a can of bug spray and mosquitoes begin buzzing around your head; pick up a jaguar skull for an anatomy lesson about what makes their jaws so impossibly strong.

Each video ranges from about two to three minutes long, but the whole experience can take up to 45 minutes, depending how deep you want to explore the Pantanal. Either way, it’s far more interactive than just vegging out to David Attenborough and Blue Planet from your couch.

Living With Jaguars is a truly unique documentary that takes the virtual reality experience to new heights,” said Nina Sudra, General Manager of VICE Canada and leading producer of the film. “VR is an entirely new platform to explore and inform discussions around conservation education, and we’re thrilled to be a part of that conversation through this film.”

Living With Jaguars had its world premiere at SXSW in Austin last month, but if you missed the three-day Toronto preview over the weekend, not to worry. If you’ve got a Cardboard headset at home, you can watch the 360-degree video online right now via the YouTube app.

And if you want to experience the film in all its interactive glory, Canadian audiences will get a second chance to see Living With Jaguars once Hot Docs starts later this month. The film will be available—for free—from April 27 to May 6 at the Autodesk Technology Centre in the MaRS building. It’s all part of the festival’s DocX programming, which aims to put a spotlight on non-traditional documentary work.

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1. Even though it sure didn’t feel like it outside. Thanks a lot, weather.
2. I’m told that footage is thanks to Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men, which is known to attract big cats like jaguars. No, really. (Insert your own Sex Panther joke here.)