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For the last two weeks, we’ve looked at some of the virtual reality projects showcased at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival Interactive Playground. But joining the immersive entertainment slate at Tribeca this year was the Virtual Arcade, which delivered thirteen VR experiences that blew the Playground’s showroom out of the water.
From among the immersive experiences delivered by some of the industry’s best and brightest, “The Click Effect” emerged as a first-of-its-kind feat of visual storytelling.
Directed by Sandy Smolan and James Nestor, “The Click Effect” takes viewers on a live-action free-dive a hundred feet beneath the ocean surface to listen to the clicks and calls of dolphins and sperm whales. The project was commissioned by New Frontier at Sundance Institute and published by the New York Times Op-Docs.
Smolan first realized the potential of VR in contemporary immersive journalism when he visited the virtual reality lab at Stanford University. Having read Nestor’s acclaimed book “Deep,” which investigates the relationship between man and the natural world through an initiation into the art of free diving, the director felt that VR could provide the perfect medium through which to convey the experience to viewers.
“‘The Click Effect’ is our attempt to create a virtual experience that is equal parts impressionistic and journalistic,” Smolan wrote in the New York Times. “It comes out of a filmic space that I often try to work in, allowing the viewer a deeper connection to both the staggering beauty of the world and to the dolphins and whales that share our intelligence.”
To catch the footage, the filmmakers dove on a single breath to capture the clicking of dolphins and sperm whales. The film immerses the viewer in the center of it all, enveloped by the sound of the animals’ calls and surrounded at every turn by members of the inquisitive pods.
To see “The Click Effect” for yourself, head over to Vrse, where you can experience the film whether or not you own a VR headset.