Tag Archive for 'virtual reality'

Three VR journalism reports you should be reading right now

Three years of experiences in VR journalism. Three years of countless experiments by journalists who are not afraid of trying out something new. Where does VR journalism stand in terms of technology, storytelling techniques and user expectations? Three reports, published in 2015, 2016 and 2017, tell the story of an exciting medium and its road ahead.

If you are interested in VR, maybe coming from an editorial angle or maybe you have an engineering background, you should know this: Journalism will be one of the key sectors that determine the (near?) future of Virtual Reality. Some journalists are excited about the endless ways of telling an immersive story, some want to put audiences into their protagonists’ shoes, others want to take them to places they have never been to. There is a lot of enthusiasm with regards to VR. However, there are also a lot of shortcomings: high production costs, little experience in storytelling techniques and almost no market penetration because, honestly: Who wants to wear these huuuge VR goggles?

If you want to understand more about the state of VR in media right now, look no further. Here, you can find three recent studies published about VR journalism.

2015: Virtual Reality Journalism (by the Tow Center)

This study, written by Raney Aronson-Rath, James Milward, Taylor Owen and Fergus Pitt, is going into detail about the production process by looking at a specific use case. From project design to distribution, you will find helpful information about the process!

2016: Viewing the Future? Virtual Reality in Journalism (by the Knight Foundation)

The report offers key trends in the business, including major technology players.

2017: VR For News: The New Reality? (by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)

This most recent study, written by Zillah Watson, is an in-depth look into newsrooms that have picked up this topic. Watson describes how media organizations are currently tackling VR, from production to setting up teams and in how far they have been able to generate revenue streams (spoiler alert: still much work ahead in that area).

Conclusions

Revisiting these three reports, they all cover different matters, so it certainly makes sense to go through all of them. In general, it seems a bit as if we are stuck. VR journalists are in the experimentation phase – still. This is an all too familiar early stage of innovative topic in media. It takes more time to elaborate, more time for media organizations to experiment (and please not only the big ones — where is local VR journalism?), more people to pick up goggles and more businesses to invest in VR.

My bet is that it’s worth diving into VR.

Fader

Fader allows you to create and publish VR stories. Add multiple layers of information to your 360 spheres, design scenes and tell your story. Easy, fast and web based!

For our prototype, we had been selected by Google’s DNI funding. This gave us the opportunity to build an MVP which you can try out now by signing up for Fader. This is how easy it is:

Fader is designed and developed by our startup Vragments, a Berlin based Virtual Reality startup. Vragments is a team of technologists and journalists who are dedicated to bring new ways of storytelling to content producers by providing an easy-to-use VR tool.

You can find more information here:

Vragments project: Disfellowshipped

This story revolves around Debbie McDaniel, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness in McAlester, Oklahoma. With the 360 approach, we give the viewer a more intimate understanding of a character and her experience.

Visitor of our VR pop up studio experiencing Disfellowshipped. Photo credit: Trey Bundy

We have been working with the Center for Investigative Reporting on a first Fader use case. The outcome is incredible: A three episodes long mini VR series about Debbie McDaniel, a “woman with an extraordinary past.”

We were able to start working closely with CIR’s reporter Trey Bundy and senior supervising editor David Ritsher. Trey was working on an investigation into Jehovah’s Witnesses and child sexual abuse claims. This is the story, you can watch it on your Android device or on your desktop browser (try Chrome or Firefox).

Screenshot of 360 experience Disfellowshipped

The reason why Trey was interested in experimenting with an investigative story in VR is because it can

“give the viewer a more intimate understanding of a character and her experience. The technology allows us to put you in the reporter’s shoes, to feel what it’s like to sit with people as they look you in the eye and tell you their story, to visit their towns and the places that affected their lives. In some instances, it becomes a window into a person’s emotional memory.”

During a cold winter weekend in February 2016, Trey met with Linda and Stephan to begin exploring what by now is the 360° episodical Disfellowshipped. They were digging through text pieces, images and audio snippets and trying to align all that into a visual 360° concept. That proved to be a challenge that Trey more than once quoted to be like creating a movie while never having been to a cinema before.

You can find more information here:

Vragments project: A100 VR

In this VR experience, you can fly over Berlin, along the planned construction of the A100 and you can zoom into immersive points of interest where you’ll learn more about the pros and cons of the construction.

Public 3D Berlin Model

Vragments’ Stephan and Linda have been involved in A100 VR, a project funded by MIZ and initiated by Lorenz Matzat, the founder of the Berlin-based company Lokaler. In a few years, the Autobahn A100 in Berlin will be extended and we show in how far this might change the affected areas close to the Autobahn. By combining 3D models of the A100 based on public data already available and 360 images of various points of interest (taken with drones, e.g.), users can get a better picture of how the constructions of the A100 will directly affect them.

360 Photo taken with a drone at Elsenbruecke

This experience was launched in collaboration with local public broadcaster rbb and the Berlin based company Lokaler Infosystems.

You can find more information here:

Vragments project: VR BER

Considering all the construction work around the Berlin airport BER, you should be allowed to at least land at the airport in a virtual reality. Welcome to BER VR.

The construction site has been in the news for years. The idea of this project is to allow users to walk through the airport in VR while learning more about the specific construction challenges. We defined points of interest around the airport and experimented with how to visualize certain aspects of the story.

Vragments’ Stephan and Linda have been involved in VR BER, a project initiated by Lorenz Matzat, the founder of the Berlin-based company Lokaler. For this experiment, we partnered up with local public broadcaster rbb and Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

You can find more information here: