VR Film Studio Felix & Paul Release ‘Nomads’ 360 Documentary Series
Studio co-founders Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël packed their 360 camera out to Mongolia, Kenya, and the seas surrounding Borneo to capture some of the planet’s last remaining nomadic tribes.
The three short-form documentaries; Herders, Maasai,and Sea Gypsies premiered at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibition in 2015 and 2016, and all three are now available in the Gear VR Store, and soon on Oculus Rift in 6K resolution.
Billed as a “new kind of VR experience that transcends documentary,” Nomads aims to immerse with their unique non-narrative style, meaning there isn’t a narrator to guide you, which ultimately leaves you to experience each culture personally. Although further episodes released through the app are slated to provide extras, such as directors’ commentary, the experience is intended to, as Lajeunesse puts it, “push the boundaries of virtual reality as a medium to create intensely personal experiences.”
Unlike other VR video apps, which often times function as a simple video repository, Lajeunesse maintains that the app is used to “set the stage for viewers,” so that they can get into a certain mindset before experiencing each tribe’s environment.
Nomads: Maasai follows the semi-nomadic pastoralists living along the Great Rift Valley in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are a patriarchal society where young men become initiated as warriors, male elders make most decisions for the community and women milk the cows, cook, make beaded adornments, and build the mud-based houses. Today, the Maasai increasingly struggle over the rights to their ancestral lands and many are now turning to alternative and supplemental means of income, including farming or tourism.
Nomads: Sea Gypsies look at The Bajau sea nomads who live off fishing and spearfish hunting in the seas and oceans of South East Asia. A largely stateless people, they have lived on water for centuries, traditionally in longboat dwellings or more commonly today in stilt houses. As lifestyles change to adapt to the commercial fishing industries and territorial shifts, the way of life of the Bajau Laut is subject to increasing pressure. The viewer is invited to experience the daily life of a Bajau family.
Nomads: Herders focuses on Mongolian pastoral herders, one of the world’s last remaining nomadic cultures. For millennia they have lived on the steppes, grazing their livestock on the grasslands. Through a series of virtual reality experiences, the viewer is invited into the reality of a nomadic family of yak herders.
Felix & Paul Studios has produced a number of 360 video experiences, including LeBron James: Striving for Greatness, Strangers with Patrick Watson, Samsung Gear VR – Intro to VR, and Jurassic World – Apatosaurus—and remain one of the top tier producers in VR film.