Making Waves: VR Story on Aquaculture Innovators in Tanzania

As part of our VR Pavilion at the World Oceans Festival we’ll be showcasing a variety of films including a preview of Making Waves: Re-engineering Aquaculture in Tanzania. Davar Ardalan is Director of Storytelling and Engagement at Secondmuse and tells us more about the 360/VR film & what we’ll be able to experience on June 4th. 

Join us on Sunday, June 4, at the World Ocean Festival as we share a preview of Making Waves, an immersive storytelling experience featuring innovators in Tanzania who are driving social, economic, and environmental change through aquaculture innovations.

“The more we understand the importance of sustainable aquaculture, the quicker we can advance it,” says Carrie Freeman, SecondMuse Managing Partner. “Immersive storytelling draws us into the world of aquaculture innovators doing cutting edge work in East Africa.”

In late April, SecondMuse team member David Ball, together with storytelling technologist Ben Kreimer and Brett Garling, an underwater videographer and director of communications for Mission Blue, traveled to Tanzania. Our 360°/VR video story documents the work of three innovative aquaculture projects supported by the Blue Economy Challenge, an effort to re-engineer the aquaculture industry led by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s innovationXchange (DFAT iXc) in partnership with SecondMuse.

As part of the preview of Making Waves, we’ll take you to the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar to learn about SeaPoWer, a project that supports a community of women farmers who are building tubular nets so they can grow high-value seaweed in deep water. Partially as a result of rising sea temperatures, these women can no longer farm seaweed in the shallow waters that have housed their farms for decades and they have been forced to move their crops to colder, deeper waters.

"This project had it all. Not only were the aquaculture innovators truly inspiring, but we also got to document them at work with 360° virtual reality camera rigs,” says Garling of Mission Blue. "And beyond just ground-based shots, we flew the camera through the sky on a drone, and underwater through SCUBA. The results are mesmerizing. Viewers will love it."

For the aerial perspectives, Ben Kreimer flew a DJI Mavic Pro drone with his custom-made camera mounts. Kreimer says capturing aerial panoramas of the seaweed farms brings an entirely new perspective to visual storytelling. “When used ethically,” Kreimer says “drones can inform and illustrate our stories in ways previously unimaginable, while democratizing access to the sky by giving non-pilot storytellers the ability to capture these views.”

Capacity Building

At SecondMuse, we discover and build movements around cutting-edge innovations that have the power to shift global paradigms. We believe that immersive media can establish intimate bridges between otherwise disconnected human experiences. We are also committed to understanding how virtual reality, 360° video, and augmented reality storytelling can be accessed and leveraged by individuals in non-western and developing nations. As much as Making Waves is a 360°/VR story, it is also all about capacity building.

The marine scientist leaders of SeaPower that you see in the Youtube clip were able to watch a VR underwater film called Valen’s Reef using a cardboard box. SecondMuse’s David Ball says they were mostly in awe of the ability to be underwater. “Despite their proximity to the ocean, swimming, for most of them, is an intimidating proposition, thus the continual mystery that the ocean presents,” Ball said “And for the women who have dedicated their lives to marine science and seaweed farming, 360 versus fixed frame seemed to give them a whole new perspective on the world beneath the surface.”

We did something similar in Timor-Leste, where we left Samsung Gear 360 cameras and smartphones with local producers, and incorporated one of their scenes in a 360°/VR experience called Eating with the Seasons. We are working to democratize 360°/VR storytelling, to illustrate and better understand how simple, accessible, and low-cost consumer hardware can be leveraged by people in a non-western context by focusing on and encouraging the capacity building aspects of the medium. We believe that storytellers everywhere should have access to immersive storytelling tools, and that they don’t need cinema-grade cameras and teams of people to produce compelling, impactful content.

The ability of 360°/VR technologies to transport and immerse the viewer in footage has exciting potential for social impact storytelling. More engaging, emotional and transformative content could support crowdsourcing and crowdfunding efforts that inspire and engage a growing SecondMuse global community. Early creators of virtual reality experiences now have the opportunity to carve out their own storytelling space that is, literally, within the minds of future change makers.  We look forward to sharing the preview with you at the World Oceans Festival on Sunday, June 4. Making Waves: Re-engineering Aquaculture in Tanzania will be released on June 8 at 3pm EDT via the Facebook page of Mission Blue, Dr. Sylvia Earle's Ocean Conservation organization.

About The Blue Economy Challenge

SecondMuse is leading an aquaculture-focused innovation platform in partnership with the innovationXchange program of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Aquacelerator is an effort to develop local economies across the Indian Ocean region, and improve our relationship with oceans, fishing, and aquatic life by connecting inspiring innovators with the networks capable of turning their ideas into reality. The project will advance the global adoption and scale of the ten most inspiring ideas that surfaced during the Blue Economy Challenge for their potential to disrupt aquaculture and address one of three challenges:

  • Rethinking feed
  • Developing new ocean products
  • Enhancing sustainable design

Stand-out innovations span the Indian Ocean region, including projects in Tanzania, South Africa, Madagascar, India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Indonesia that range from low-cost, micro-scale farming solutions to vaccine-carrying fish feed, and solar-powered refrigeration.

Our Aquacelerator’s 360°/VR work features indigenous innovations from Tanzania, including a solution to replace fisheries’ reliance on marine based proteins with insect proteins grown on organic waste; a high quality hatchery to get fish fry to farmers; and a community-based seaweed cultivation project that brings climate resilient innovations to female seaweed farmers.

See this VR film and more at the World Ocean Festival on June 4th in NYC. #saveourocean