Virtual Reality Experiences

How we used VR to turn people into animals

There’s nothing like VR (virtual reality) technology to bring people closer to the action. While most people use their VR headsets to fight off hordes of invisible zombies, we look at how charities can use them for good.  

We can’t physically pick people up and put them down in the heart of a crisis (at least that’s what our lawyers tell us). But we can use the power of emotive storytelling and virtual reality to give people an experience like no other.

The power of VR for charities 

VR videos aren’t just watched. They’re experienced. That’s why virtual reality is the next big thing in fundraising and activism.

It offers tons of new opportunities for organisations to raise awareness. Through VR, charities can showcase the work they do and bring people to the beating heart of the issues they’re facing.

The impact can be huge, which is why more charities are using VR in their campaigns. In 2023 alone, a survey of more than 300 UK charities and organisations found that almost 60% had used VR, AR or online games for fundraising. 

Our latest video for Animal Justice Project uses CGI along with real ambient sounds to put the viewer right inside a live animal transport truck.

A version of the ‘experience’ when viewed through a VR headset

Here’s what Animal Justice Project had to say about the film:

“We worked with Kate and Craig from UP to create this cutting-edge CGI film for our ‘Lives Not Stock’ campaign. The video spotlights the desperation, panic and distress that animals face during domestic transport and live exports. It has reached thousands of people, enabling them to connect with animals during transportation and bringing us one step closer to animal freedom. It is always wonderful working with UP on projects as we know the outcome will be hard-hitting and impactful for the animals.”

Ayrton Cooper, Campaigns Manager

Find out more about Animal Justice Project’s Lives Not Stock campaign

Real life or CGI?

Some charities decide to use real life footage, which can be an incredibly powerful way to highlight a particular case study, and raise awareness for the cause. However, the footage itself may be hard to obtain.

Using CGI in VR videos can often be a better approach for charity campaigns precisely because the subjects themselves aren’t real. You can create that emotional element and impact, without alienating people who can’t bring themselves to watch real suffering, or ‘graphic content’, which is understandable.

CGI is not easy to do well, but it’s worthwhile if it’s done in the right way. Using the power of storytelling and 360 degree immersion can put people in the shoes (or hooves, paws and claws) of those who are affected by the issue to evoke empathy and understanding.

Sound design is also a vital factor in creating a fully immersive VR experience. Video alone won’t completely ground the viewer in the story. By creating a complex soundscape, through sampling and composition, we can create a multi-sensory, very emotional experience.

The art of VR

Art has always had the power to change the way people see the world. It can evoke powerful reactions and drive empathy in ways that challenge social norms. In her first UK exhibition Abattoir, artist Aria Dean creates an immersive experience that transports people inside the walls of a slaughterhouse.

Although there are no VR headsets involved in the installation in London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, the viewer experiences the slaughterhouse in much the same way they would if they were watching a CGI video in a VR setting. Only there’s one exception: there are no animals in Abattoir.

Still from Abattoir by Aria Dean

Aria Dean’s exhibition uses CGI, sound and colour to bring the horror of the slaughterhouse to the viewer, without the need for a single animal.

Can VR save the world?

VR is still intriguing for most, and it offers charities and organisations another avenue for fundraising, for awareness-raising, and for outreach. Can VR help save the world? Maybe. The power of these experiences is that they can incite action, and action is exactly what the world needs right now.

Student using VR headset on campus

VR experience for The Plant Based Treaty

Our upcoming VR video for The Plant Based Treaty will transport people into the middle of the climate crisis, so they can see for themselves how the environment is impacted by animal agriculture. From arctic wastelands, to forest fires and poisoned rivers, the wearer experiences these environmental crises firsthand. More soon!

Are you missing out on the opportunities offered by VR? We can help with that.

Let’s take your VR project forward … and UP!