Immotion Group, the virtual reality entertainment specialist, recently premiered its latest VR adventure, Flight of the Mantas, at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) mid-year meeting in Oklahoma City. Rod Findley, the firm’s president, was present to introduce the immersive experience to the more than 1000 zoo and aquarium professionals attending the event.
Viewers are taken on a deep dive beneath the clear seas off the coast of Mozambique, where they join marine biologist Dr Andrea Marshall as she sets out to research and protect the manta ray species there. Dr Marshall, who is known as the “Queen of the Mantas,” is a co-founder of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, a nonprofit organisation devoted to the preservation of marine life that is at risk of extinction and to the restoration of healthy seas.
Sharing a vital message
Dr Marshall was keen to work with Immotion on a collaboration looking at manta rays. “Conservation requires empathy,” she says. “And it’s a really important experience to swim alongside a large animal, to see the challenges it faces. We’ve become disconnected from the natural world, and people don’t get to experience wildlife anymore. But Immotion’s FLIGHT OF THE MANTAS transports them, takes them underwater where they’re right there, swimming next to a manta ray.
“So, VR has been a vital educational tool and a game changer in conservation. Which is so important, because we don’t have a lot of time left to save the remaining manta populations.”
Findley adds: “Partnering with conservation organizations like the Marine Megafauna Foundation is very important to us. It forms the core of our mission of conservation and education.”
Immotion flight of the manta
To spread the word on the importance of conservation, the firm works with zoos and aquariums to place multi-seat VR theatres on-site, deepening guest engagement via immersive VR experiences. Its VR theatres are currently in more than 35 locations worldwide, and this number is growing. Its VR experiences also include Gorilla Trek, Shark Dive and Swimming with Humpbacks.
For this new experience, Immotion’s creative team worked with Habitat XR in Africa for logistical help and production services. Habitat XR provided state-of-the-art VR cameras to create the 3D, 360 VR experience.
Immotion recently won a 2023 Lumiere Award in the Best Use of VR category for its innovative Gorilla Trek documentary experience.