By being someone else, and seeing and discovering the world through the eyes of other people, that can only increase our empathy... and decrease our own egocentric view of the world.
VR could very well be a greater storytelling medium than video games and TV. By being someone else, and seeing and discovering the world through the eyes of other people, that can only increase our empathy... and decrease our own egocentric view of the world. Documentarian Danfung Dennis thinks that virtual reality is an untapped resource that we should keep our eyes on (literally and figuratively), as the right story at the right time could change the world. Imagine a congressman from Texas watching climate change happen at the polar ice caps before their very eyes. It's a powerful prospect. Danfung Dennis is the founder of Condition One, a VR production and technology studio that has created VR experiences for National Geographic, The New York Times, Google, and Hulu.
Here's how immersive virtual reality experiences can help us save animals, the planet and each other.
What’s it like to not be you? Step into virtual reality and see. Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Danfung Dennis created the four-part docuseries This Is Climate Change in VR to capture what he calls "impossible perspectives". What's it like to be underneath a melting glacier the moment it crashes down? "This medium is having to raise questions that take things to another level; can we have people really dive down into these hard problems and experience what it might be like to be in a famine-like condition, or in the inferno of a wildfire, or in the kill chute of a slaughterhouse?" asks Dennis. Artistically, how do you invite people into these intense worlds without them removing their headsets and fleeing when things become too confronting? If filmmakers can find a way to balance intensity with awe, VR could reset humanity's empathy and perhaps kill apathy once and for all. "These are very intense things—life and death. But it's absolutely critical that we understand that they’re happening and that we’re all contributing to it. And if we no longer want to participate in either destructive or violent practices, we have to know where to divest," he says. Danfung Dennis is the founder of Condition One, a VR production and technology studio that has created VR experiences for National Geographic, The New York Times, Google, and Hulu.
Since 2006, Danfung Dennis has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His still photographs have been published in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Le Figaro Magazine, Financial Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Der Spiegel, and The Wall Street Journal.
PBS's Frontline opened its 2009 fall feature program, 'Obama's War' using Danfung Dennis' footage. The immersive nature of the footage prompted a flurry of comment and inquiry from the Pentagon, the White House, veterans groups, viewers and was nominated for a 2010 Emmy Award.
In 2010, Danfung Dennis won the Bayeux-Calvados Award For War Correspondents, was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine and one of the 30 New and Emerging Photographers by PDN Magazine.
Danfung Dennis directed and filmed his first feature-length documentary on the war in Afghanistan, Hell and Back Again, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and won both the World Cinema Jury Award and the World Cinema Cinematography Award. The film was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award for best feature documentary.
Danfung Dennis is currently the CEO and Founder of Condition One, a video software company that combines advanced 3D graphics with high-resolution video to create powerful immersive video applications. Condition One licenses its software to brands, agencies, and media companies to power immersive video experiences. The company is funded by TechStars and angel investors Mark Cuban and George Kliavkoff among others.
His background is in Applied Economics and Business Management and consulting small and medium-sized enterprises in Uganda and South Africa.