When you think of virtual reality (VR) you probably think of the familiar Oculus Rift headset and its applications for the gaming industry. Of course, VR also has application possibilities in other areas, such as teaching and medicine. It may surprise you to learn that the technology has also been adopted by the news media to try and re-engage viewers who have lost interest in news coverage.
A total of three 360-degress films were developed, making use of the technology to provide viewers with a more immersive experience. They all gave viewers a very special view of some high-profile world events.
The 360-degreee films
One of the three films was developed by Vice News in partnership with Chris Malik, who is a digital artist, and experienced director Spike Jonze. They collaborated on content which captured the Millions March protests which took place in New York in December 2014.
The second film is a 360-degree capture of the Hong Kong protests which was filmed by the creators of the immersiv.ly app. This app has been specifically designed to bring virtual reality (VR) into the world of journalism.
The third of these 360-degree films was made by the UN. The film is centered on a Syrian refugee and is entitled “Clouds Over Sidra”. The content was created by Chris Milk with assistance from Gabo Arora who is a UN advisor.
The aim of making and releasing the three films was to embrace the interest in virtual reality (VR) and use it to bring new look news content to viewers who could view the content by simply using Google Cardboard.
How 360-degree content can help to engage new viewers
The idea of using 360-degree content is likely to be used by more journalists and news producers as they seek to regain the interest of viewers. The whole experience of being in a 360-degree environment helps the viewer to become more immersed in the experience. People are able to take their own interpretations from what they see. This helps to improve interest and excitement levels. The hope is that this will raise the number of viewers of news content.
Having a wider view of what is happening also means that people will likely want to watch content multiple times as they will notice different occurrences and images on each viewing. There may even be opportunities for viewers to re-edit their own film.
The flexibility of 360-degreee filming
It’s not difficult to be able to capture an event such as the Hong Kong protests. The making of this film involved the use of just six Go-Pro cameras. Kit like this can be transported anywhere making it easy to capture any event in 360-degree aspect, across the globe. The one downside of producing this type of film is that the software used in piecing the coverage together is still in need of some development. This development is happening with solutions such as Jaunt VR, which aims to improve its editing speed so that live streaming can eventually be done in 360-degree aspect.
It’s easy to see how VR technology can revolutionize news broadcasting, not just for large-scale events like those captured in the three films we mentioned, but for smaller scale events such as political debates where viewers can choose to follow a particular candidate. We will be interested to see how this side of news broadcasting develops.