iAnimal: Virtual Immersion Into the Reality of Factory Farming

By Dr Toni Shephard, Executive Director (UK), Animal Equality

Paul McCartney once famously said ‘If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians’… but of course they don’t, and most people remain unaware of the lives and deaths of animals raised for food. But now all that has changed with Animal Equality – a leading international animal protection charity – transporting people inside factory farms and slaughterhouses via virtual reality technology.

In 2016 we launched our iAnimal virtual reality project with the film ’Through the eyes of a pig’. It took 18 months to produce and features footage from inside pig farms in the UK, Germany and Italy as well as a slaughterhouse in Spain. In all of these countries, and most of the western world, the majority of pigs killed for meat are intensively reared inside barren, filthy factory farm sheds with breeding sows confined to tiny farrowing crates for weeks at a time when they give birth—a sight that moved Downton Abbey actor, Peter Egan to tears as he narrated the film.

“I have never seen anything as shocking as this in my life. It’s devastating, and completely inhumane. Virtual reality enabled me to experience, close up, for just a few minutes, the horror of the short lives of factory farmed animals, to see what they see, to get a real sense of how they live. It has shocked me deeply, and it has strengthened my resolve to help them.” –  Peter Egan, Downton Abbey Actor

The practices that take place inside factory farms and slaughterhouses are deliberately kept hidden from the public. Animal Equality believes people have the right to know what happens in modern farms and slaughterhouses so that consumers can make informed decisions about the food they buy. Now, through our cutting-edge iAnimal project, we can open up these secretive, sinister worlds and allow everyone to experience first hand how farmed animals live – and die.

Through the lenses of the virtual reality headset, viewers feel that they are inside the farm and slaughterhouse, trapped alongside all the other animals, and sharing their fate. You stand next to a mother pig while she gives birth for the sixth time to piglets who will soon be taken away from her. You experience the extreme confinement of the farrowing crates. You witness the daily suffering that takes place inside a pig farm. You are right there when they take their last breath.

Our second film, 42 Days, immerses viewers in the lives of the most abused animals on the planet – factory farmed chickens. From the crowding and suffering inside vast chicken sheds, to hanging on a conveyor as you approach the slaughterman’s knife, this powerful film puts viewers in the place of the chicken, allowing you to see life – and death – through their eyes. Amanda Abbington, star of Sherlock and Mr Selfridge, was so horrified when she narrated the film that she threw down a challenge – ‘You should watch this before you eat meat, because I don’t think you would eat it.’

Having personally filmed inside countless factory farms, I have always felt that if I could only take people there – into the farms – so they can see how animals are treated like mere machines, they would stop eating them. Virtual reality has now made this possible and we are bringing this experience to as many people as we can. It is changing, and saving, lives.

Over the past 14 months, we have toured the country with iAnimal, visiting university campuses and high streets where more than 30,000 people have dared to put on a VR headset and enter the world of farmed animals. iAnimal is also available to everyone on www.iAnimal.uk where you can watch the 360° film and take a virtual tour. Do you dare to watch it and see what the meat industry is hiding from you?

Join Toni for our Raindance VR Masterclass on Monday, May 22 to learn more about crafting VR experiences for social change and impact. Reserve your spot here

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WTF: ‘Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ is a Movie?

tom and jerry willy wonka

This week in completely unnecessary ideas that you didn’t think were even possible, there’s a straight-to-DVD movie inserting Tom and Jerry into a shot-for-shot animated version of the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Let that sink in. Because no matter how you try to convince yourself that it’s some bad trip, it’s real.

Apparently this is not a new practice for Warner Bros., which I learned has released 12 (!) direct-to-DVD movies starring the classic cat-and-mouse duo before making this abomination. One of which was titled The Fast and the Furry, so I guess I dodged a bullet in not knowing that existed. But now that I’ve found, I’m dragging you all down with me.

But I’m assuming with The Fast and the Furry that they didn’t just recreate The Fast and the Furious film with an animated Vin Diesel (though I admit, I might just pay to see that), and insert Tom and Jerry engaging in their silly shenanigans as gang wars and street races ensue around them. Though I just learned that this existed, so maybe it does, I don’t know.

It seems that Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is emphatically a shot-for-shot remake of the 1971 classic film starring Gene Wilder, but with Tom and Jerry inserting themselves into the action. I can’t tell if they’re Charlie’s pets and he decides to take them along for the chocolate factory tour? Or maybe they just got their own tickets and everyone treats the cat-and-mouse duo as another contestant? I don’t know why I’m trying to make sense of this movie.

Bad animation and baffling narrative aside, it is reassuring that Tom and Jerry are maintaining their mostly soundless antics. The clip below is reminiscent of classic Tom and Jerry sequences, with Jerry narrowly evading his feline nemesis as Tom gets increasingly injured. But I’m pretty sure this dignified approach to Tom and Jerry is lost when a mouse dons an Oompa Loompa wig like we see in the trailer above.

If you have a particularly strong sense of morbid curiousity, Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will be released on Digital HD and Blu-ray in August.

In the meantime, check out this bizarre, far-too-detailed Wiki page on the movie.

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‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ Honest Trailer, Featuring Michael Bolton (Yes, Really)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Honest Trailer

Screen Junkies is continuing their Fan Appreciation Month with another Honest Trailer that their most loyal viewers have been clamoring for. With just one more left to go before January is over, the film that landed in second place is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Author Roald Dahl adapted his own book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for director Mel Stuart, and the result is a fever dream of candy and imagery that might seem a bit crazy by today’s standards. But for a film created in 1971, it was completely normal. However, there might be some things you didn’t realize before, like the fact that Grandpa Joe is a con artist who has two coke nails.

Unlike most Honest Trailers though, this one has a special guest in the form of Michael Bolton. Why? Well, he has an album to promote, so there you go. Watch the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Honest Trailer featuring Michael Bolton after the jump.

Seriously, that shot of Grandpa Joe’s coke nails blew me away. I can never unsee it, and I’ll never be able to look at anything else except those two long fingernails whenever I see that shot. You can’t really hold that against actor Jack Albertson though. It was the 1970s, and everyone was doing some kind of drug.

As for that Michael Bolton album, well, if you’re not a fan of the singer then it probably won’t be for you. Bolton sings covers of famous tunes from movies including “Old Time Rock and Roll” from Risky Business, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and more. You’ll also find The Lonely Island track “Jack Sparrow” from Saturday Night Live and a track called “Cupid” from Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, which is coming to Netflix on February 7th. You can find out more about the album right here.

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