Paolo Falco Rüegg

Living with the Snow Leopards

VR documentary on human-animal conflict in North India

VR Interaction Design Documentary

I was supporting NowHere Media in Berlin during a four-week concept development sprint for an upcoming documentary movie. The movie revolves around the human-animal conflict unfolding between farmers and wildlife in Northern India, a development largelly fuelled by climate change. As a consequence, the snow leopard face an existential threat, excascerbated by it being an apex species that relies on the stability of species lower in the food chain. It is estimated that only 200 - 300 snow leopards remain in the Ladakh area. So when the natural prey starts disappearing, they attack the cattle of the farmers instead.

From a cultural perspective, the snow leopard occupies a strong place in the local mythology and history. So what’s the right thing to do when a snow leopard instead of attacking wild prey starts to attack the farmers’ cattle?

The documentary addresses these issues as an immersive experience. It is based on the experiences that the Studio Leads, Gayatri Paramsweran and Felix Gaedtke, collected during their time as journalists in the area. I was involved as a technical designer in residence, meaning I evaluated the possibilities in terms of user interaction. This involved both storyboarding, creating Unity prototypes as well as doing research and testing with the lastest XR platforms.

Fortunately, our work paid off and we were able to secure initial funding from the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.