If you’re a lover of virtual reality experiences, The Lost Botanist, a new film by a South African brother and sister team is well worth checking out.

Co-directed by the Kokstad-raised sister and brother team of Ree and Rick Treweek, The Lost Botanist is a five-minute interactive adventure for immersive devices.

The movie tells the story of a Lost Botanist, you, who is misplaced in a world that’s forgotten all about nature.

While researching the lost marvels of the natural world, you open a grimoire that transports you to The Under-Garden, the dream-like home of the spirits of all forgotten things.

In each of the wondrous places you’ll visit, you must find a mythical creature to guide you further into the unknown, from The Nethermere to The Amber Vale to The Nevermist…

The Lost botanist

A Visual World

“I’ve always wanted to create a world that people could step into, a visual world people could be immersed in and lost in, so for me The Lost Botanist is an absolute dream come true,” says Ree, who is Africa’s most awarded animation director, having been recognised everywhere from the Clios to the London International Awards among others.

Technically, Rick says The Lost Botanist stands out from most other VR experiences for three main reasons:

  • its counterintuitive use of 2D animation in a 360 environment;
  • its use of a 3D printed Oculus Go case shaped like an owl, that feels like an artwork in itself; and
  • its development focus on the standalone VR headset Oculus Go, a comparatively light and low-spec platform.

The Lost Botanist

New Levels

Rick and Ree plan to extend The Lost Botanist with additional levels in the immersive experience; a spinoff film; an augmented reality game and a merchandise range that includes toys, adult colouring books, and puzzles.

“This is just a prologue for a much bigger experience,” says Rick, who has worked with artists like William Kentridge and Mary Sibande at Eden Labs.

He believes The Lost Botanist’s timing couldn’t be better. “There’s a pure lack of VR content, so if we can get The Lost Botanist on the stores now, it will get eyeballs,” says Rick, whose first company, Breakdesign, generated over 16 million mobile game downloads. “It feels a lot like mobile games in 2007 like everything is coming full circle for me…”