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Interactive Annual 19:

Bear 71

Launch Live Site

“This site made a big impression on me. It breaks many user experience best practices (things move everywhere, there is little direction), but the result is an effective immersive experience that makes great use of multimedia content. It succeeded in engaging me and in making me feel emotional about the topic.”
—Sophie Henry

“A beautifully-directed, emotional, cinematic experience that tells an important story.”
—Scott Prindle

Overview: This multiuser, interactive narrative follows the life of a female grizzly bear in Canada’s Banff National Park from the moment she’s tagged and collared by park rangers to the moment of her untimely death. The story, narrated by Mia Kirshner, is told from the bear’s perspective and site visitors watch it unfold through thousands of trail-cam images and videos. The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) project observes and records the intersection of humans, nature and technology, and speaks to how we coexist with wildlife in the age of networks, geo-location and shared digital information.

  • • A simultaneous social narrative campaign was launched on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook and brought significant viral traffic and attention to the site.
  • • Visitors can explore the bear’s natural habitat as an abstract landscape constructed from thousands of stylized data points.
  • • Users are asked to activate their webcam. The camera is active but invisible to the user until they launch the surveillance screen.

Comments by NFB Digital Team:

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “Blending a non-linear visual experience with a linear story and creating a visual metaphor for the intersection of landscape and technology, in order to create a canvas for us to unfold the bear's story. Jam3 built a tool that allowed the NFB team to design all aspects of the piece from sound to imagery to videos and to create the nuances of the look and feel of the landscape.”

In what ways does the content resonate for the development team? “It's a strong emotional story delivered in a linear format married with a non-linear visual user experience and a soundtrack that includes Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Atlas Sound. But the real beauty of the project is that it uses technology to question how humans use technology and documents the duality. It actually uses the viewer's webcam to turn the tables on issues of surveillance; in addition to the thousands of authentic trail-cam images of wildlife, a live webcam ‘surveillance wall’ allows users to observe each other.”


JB MacKinnon, writer
Leanne Allison/Jeremy Mendes, directors
Dana Dansereau/Loc Dao/National Film Board of Canada/Bonnie Thompson, producers
David Christensen/Loc Dao/Rob McLaughlin, executive producers
JAM3, project design and development
National Film Board of Canada (Montréal, Canada), client

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