Earlier this December, National Geographic and YouTube announced that they were teaming up to work on several VR projects. The first is a four part series set in the African wetlands, which takes you on an immersive 360 journey to Botswana's Okavango Delta. Episode 1, the Okavango Experience is now out.
To create the virtual reality video, National Geographic filmmakers joined the Okavango Wilderness Project team on their mission to survey the wildlife and ecosystems by canoe. The information they gather will be used for conservation efforts. The delta is described as one of the "last wild places on Earth", as well as one of the most biodiverse areas on the African continent, if not the world. It is located in northern Botswana and covers from 1200 to 3000 square miles, depending on the season. It is home to hundreds of species of birds, as well as elephants, cheetahs, rhinos and more.
In the first episode, National Geographic welcomes you to watch zebras, "ride in a canoe as it glides through the wetlands, and sit around the campfire with the expedition team as they plan the next day’s journey." You can watch the episode here:
However, if you want the truly immersive VR experience, you can watch it either on your Oculus device via the YouTube VR app or on your Google Daydream device via the National Geographic application (you will need to download it from Google Play first). The next episodes in the series will be released in the following weeks - December 18, December 25 and January 1.
National Geographic also stated that they are committed to releasing more similar content. Jenna Pirog, National Geographic's senior director of video and immersive experiences, said in a statement: "National Geographic has always pushed the boundaries of visual storytelling. We're looking forward to a long-term partnership with YouTube that will allow us to remain industry stewards for marrying immersive technology with impactful storytelling."