[caption id="attachment_1938" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Photo by Megan Wisby"][/caption]
“Sometimes, it’s hard to say where the wired world ends and the wild one begins.”
Bear71 is an interactive web documentary started by an award-winning team (the National Film Board Interactive and Jam3) driven to build and evolve the flow of narrative. With the help of a microsite, Flash, Adobe AIR, social media sites, trail cameras and surveillance cameras, viewers could explore the world in the eyes of a grizzly bear in Banff National Park, Bear71.
Tranquilized, tagged and collared with a GPS device at the age of three, Bear71 joins a group of wired wildlife and their interactions with their diminishing home range. In this documentary you are dropped into an interactive map of the Park, where you can encounter other wired animals that live there. Clicking on one of these animals reveals a video feed and information about them since being collared. You can even click on your own marker as well, where you too are subject to surveillance (the site requests access to your webcam and microphone, which you can choose to deny).
While exploring the interactive map, the story continues from Bear71’s point of view (voiced by Mia Kirshner) as she describes her life, her cubs, the other resident animals and the dangers at bay. In essence, this documentary explores the relationship between humans, animals and technology and the detrimental effects they can have on one another.
“The first rule of survival is don’t do what seems natural. Of course it’s not going to be easy.”
Tying into Bear71 is a social networking layer to the story centered on a Twitter profile, Tumblr blog and a microsite where visitors can roleplay as one of Banff Park’s wired animals.
Bear71 is about us, it’s about wildlife, and it’s about the sense of surveillance between the two. The sense of observation throughout the story helps to bring the viewer deeper in, and emotionally connect with these animals as they fight to survive. The experience is unique, powerful and extremely moving.
If you’d like to experience this 20-minute interactive web documentary for yourself you can check it out here.
Dana Dansereau, @danadansereau
Pablo Vio, @pablovio