Former U.S. President Bill Clinton recently became the first POTUS to step into the world of virtual reality.
The President had teamed with agency Matter Unlimited, a shop dedicated to helping clients do good through their marketing, to create a 360-degree film promoting the efforts of his organization the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together the world's leaders to tackle the most pressing issues confronting the world today. The film debuted at the CGI late last month (watch the President's introducing it here) and more recently was featured at the PopTech forum in Maine this past weekend during a Facebook activation, "See More -- Creating empathy with virtual reality."
Produced out of MssngPeces and directed by VR mavens Felix & Paul Studios (run by directors Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael), "Inside Impact: East Africa" invites viewers into President Clinton's office and then follows him to East Africa. The audience joins along as he visits a Nairobi classroom, meets with "Solar Sisters," a group of female entrepreneurs bringing solar power to rural Tanzania and tours Africa's largest slum in Kibera. There's also a particularly touching moment when the former President, along with his daughter Chelsea joins the Starkey Hearing foundation to help a young girl hear for the first time by presenting her with a hearing aid.
The demo video here doesn't really do the experience justice. For a better sense of it, check it the 360-degree film on Facebook. Ideally, viewers should us a VR headset. With the latter, you'll likely be moved to tears when the girl hears for the first time. Also, it'll become pretty apparent that the President is quite slender in person and he happens to wear Nike. The experience is available exclusively for VR in the Oculus Store for the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition, powered by Oculus.
The challenge of working with a high-profile client like President Clinton called for having a "clear vision for what you intend to accomplish and a serious understanding of the medium your work with, from an artistic, storytelling and technological standpoint," said Felix&Paul's Mr. Lajeunesse. "President Clinton was open-minded and very collaborative throughout the whole process of creating this piece."
Perhaps the most important thing they had to keep in mind, from a storytelling and experiential standpoint, was "balance," said Mr. Raphael. "We had important ideas to convey, multiple places to transport the viewer to, and a desire to establish a strong yet non-manipulative emotional connection with the viewer, in a short form experience. So as VR filmmakers we had to find out how to create the right balance, harmony and rhythm between all of those aspects."
The East Africa film is just the first of a series for the "Inside Impact" series, according to Matter Unlimited founder Robert Holzer. Forthcoming efforts will continue to showcase stories of positive social impact around the world.