Virtual Reality, 360 Videos & Immersive Journalism

Virtual Reality (VR) is the new frontier for storytellers like filmmakers and journalists. A whole new world for stories is evolving in front of our eyes. How do we best use this technology for journalism? How can we use Virtual Reality to create an immersive experience and awareness for stories that have remained unseen and unheard too often?
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What is going on in VR right now? We are gathering experiences, we are trying out and we are individually enjoying the great moment when we put on a VR headset for the first time. My first VR experience was in the late 90s in Berlin. I was standing in a TRON like cyberspace environment filled with blocks and cubes. Nothing compared to what I experienced in 2014, when I put my Galaxy Note 4 into the Samsung Gear VR headset and launched my very first 360 Video. All of a sudden my phone took me onto a helicopter flight in Iceland. I was hanging outside that helicopter, looking down, seeing wild horses run, rivers and mountains. I took of the headset and felt a little shaky.

Ever since that day I am making up my mind how to use this technology for new forms of storytelling. 360 Videos can take you to places where you have never been before. The easiest way to produce such kind of content is using a 360 camera like the Ricoh Theta S. We use this camera to create an interactive app of East Frisia. Check out the intro video:

 

 

 

But I think that transferring somebody into a different location is not the most important thing about Virtual Reality. It is the fact that VR enables you to see the world from somebody elses point of view. Check out this video and think about it for a minute: what is the most impressive moment?

 

The moment Glen Keane starts drawing in Virtual Reality is the strongest part in my opinion. Imagine you would see the shot of him drawing his digital sculpture in the virtual environment through a VR headset. You would actually get a feeling for his passion, his speed of drawing, his way of focussing on certain parts of the comic character. This creates a deeper understanding  and very strong connection to the person that is borrowing his eyes to us.

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