Bear 71: Wildlife [Transmedia] Storytelling From NFB Canada


Here’s a question for you…

If a picture is worth a thousand words and a video worth a million, how many words is an interactive transmedia storytelling experience worth?

The answer….

In an effort to shed light on the otherwise mundane issue of wildlife and the serious challenges it faces, the National Film Board of Canada’s digital studio, NFB Interactive launched a fully interactive story of a grizzly bear.

The transmedia interactive experience puts viewers in the shoes paws of Bear 71, an original resident of  the valleys and mountains of Canada.

The Story of Bear 71

Bear 71 is an award-winning interactive web documentary created by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes

The story is about a grizzly bear in Banff National Park outside of Canmore, Alberta, collared at age three and watched her entire life via cameras in the park.

The touching story explores the connections between humans and animals, and the hazardous effects that human settlements, roads and railways have had on wildlife.

The webdoc is narrated by Mia Kirshner (Bear 71) and the script written by JB Mackinnon.

Using Technology to Tell a Story

Modern day technology of mapped grid points, co-ordinates and surveillance cameras provide the entry point to Bear 71’s world; the narrative is explored via the millions of images and video footage that tell the very emotional story of Bear 71, who is forced to live in and move through a new world, hunted by an unfamiliar predator and struggling to adapt to a fast changing environment.


A Multiuser Interactive Experience

The basic premise behind the project is the telling of a multimedia story via cameras that record the tagged female grizzly bear in her home territory.  It doesn’t stop there.

Using webcam technology, the Bear 71 website also allows logged in users to interact with each other by activating their computer’s webcams.

It’s a linear story with a non-linear user experience

A Transmedia Execution

To ensure that the story crosses the digital divide, the project was supplemented with real life installations in 2 major cities with an augmented reality tablet app enhances the experience.

Live events were also held where audiences got to see the project unveiled and had a chance to meet with the creators.  Content was also posted on on Tumblr and the conversation hosted on Twitter via the #bear71 hashtag.  Annoyingly, Facebook was not utilised?!

Enter into Bear 71’s world:

Click on the image below to enter the world of Bear 71

Enter the World of Bear 71

Brands, Take Note

For those of you that know me -my clients especially- know that I’m a huge advocate of the use of technology to market brands in a new age.  Specifically, the use of mesh of tech and multimedia narrative to tell stories on multiple platforms to capture the attention of an otherwise apathetic audience.

While the online marketing efforts of the Bear71 project leave much to be desired, the concept and its brilliant execution is genius and has hopefully been an inspiration to you as it was to me.

Over to you…

Has the telling of the Bear 71 story inspired you to think differently about your brand story and how you should tell it? Share your views…

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