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Virtual Reality Journalism : A new way of story telling

For filmmakers, virtual reality also presents a new way to tackle issues such as police brutality

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  • A virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a virtual segregation cell
  • Rather than just watching the action, virtual reality places viewers squarely in the middle of it
  • Virtual reality is quickly emerging as a tool in a journalist’s storytelling arsenal

To capture the experience of being imprisoned in a solitary confinement cell for their readers, editors at The Guardian newspaper collaborated with producers at The Mill, a virtual reality company, to create 6×9, a virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a virtual segregation cell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1us-VbK9Ka0&feature=youtu.be

The resulting video is unnerving in its authenticity. Incorporating ambient sound and audio excerpts from interviews with former prisoners, viewers experience what is likely to be the closest encounter with solitary confinement that they will ever have, short of visiting prison themselves.

“It was an incredible experience, I was sweating and my heart was beating really fast and it was really upsetting. I found myself tearing up a little bit. … It was a very emotional, physical and mental experience,” said Emilia Petrarca, who watched 6×9 at the Tribeca Film Festival’s “Storyscapes” event in New York City.

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Storytelling tool

For journalists, virtual reality is quickly emerging as another tool in their storytelling arsenal.

“It’s about access,” said Francesca Panetta, special projects editor at The Guardian. “This is access to a space and to an environment that you wouldn’t normally have,” she added.

Rather than just watching the action, virtual reality places viewers squarely in the middle of it. News organizations such as The New York Times and USA Today are discovering it’s a powerful medium for storytelling.

“It just opens the door to another level of immersion outside of just traditional filmmaking and just creates another level of sympathy as well, and empathy for the viewer,” said Jared Vladich, visual effects producer at The Mill.

Picture of the virtual segregation cell.
Picture of the virtual segregation cell. Image source: VOA

For filmmakers, virtual reality also presents a new way to tackle issues such as police brutality.

In “Perspective 2: The Misdemeanor,” viewers experience a violent police confrontation from the perspectives of both cop and civilian.

“You see a heated topic happen from one person’s eyes, sort of build empathy for that character, and then you see it from another person’s eyes,” said Morris May, CEO of Specular Theory, the company behind the film. Filming multiple perspectives required a day’s worth of repeated takes, during which the line between reality and fiction began to blur.

“People thought this accident was actually happening, so we have extras in the film that came by with their cellphones and started filming, not even realizing that this was a film shoot because there’s no camera visible and there’s no film crew visible at all,” May said.

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Generating revenue

In addition to the tricky mechanics of filming, virtual reality productions can be cost-prohibitive.

The Guardian‘s Panetta said, “For journalism, it’s quite expensive. So for a newspaper, which is an industry that its financial model is still being questioned, it’s a very expensive medium.”

At The New York Times, editors have found that partnering with advertisers is one way to generate income on virtual reality projects.

“We think there’s a good business here. Virtual reality is a powerful way to tell stories for journalists, but it’s also become a powerful way for brands to tell their stories,” said Sam Dolnick, associate editor at the Times.

The company has partnered with clients like Tag Heuer and Mini to create virtual-reality experiences that target Times readers.

“We think there’s a potential around virtual reality becoming some kind of premium offer, and whether that’s for subscribers, a new paywall, we’re experimenting, we’re thinking about it,” Dolnick added.

The New York Times has given away more than 1 million basic Google Cardboard viewers to subscribers. A recent virtual-reality experience transported viewers to the top of One World Trade Center with National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin, for breathtaking views of New York City.

With the new era demanding more from its people,the long-term profitability of virtual reality remains to be seen, and the new medium has journalists and filmmakers pushing the boundaries of storytelling.

-by Newsgram staff with inputs from VOA

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Journalism can go even more further! This is one of the biggest discoveries journalism can have. The virtual reality should be encouraged even outside US

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Why Not Everyone Can Travel the World

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India
As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

Many people desire to experience how life feels beyond their borders by traveling to as many countries as the possible, but just a few ever manage to realize their dream of traveling. Several factors may be responsible for this, considering that traveling is expensive and will require to have some time on your hand that you can afford you to spend for the travels.

However, most people don’t have either the money to take care of their traveling expenses or the time to travel. But for some people, they have both the time and the money, but still, they are unable to travel. In order to try and understand this group of people, here are some of the possible reasons why not everyone may be ready to travel the world-:

Traveling may be uncomfortable

Leaving the comfort of your home to explore lands you may have never set foot it may not be the easiest thing in the world. It requires you to be tough mentally and physically so that you are well prepped and ready to deal with both the physical and mental challenges you are likely to face.

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When some people think about the prospects of going through these experiences, they find it easy to take the easy decision.

Once you leave the comfort and the certainty you have at home, you are exposed to all kinds of experiences, including dealing with randy roommates, rude people in public spaces, sleeping in crappy hostels, eating foods you have never eaten before, and a whole horde of new experiences. When some people think about the prospects of going through these experiences, they find it easy to take the easy decision which is to stick to the places they already know and never bother to travel the world.

Travelling will take you out of your comfort zone

The possibility of having to do and experience things you have never done before or which you don’t know how to do is another turn of that make some people to not bother about traveling. The human mind is designed to keep the body safe from any harm, both real and perceived. When it comes to traveling, there are so many unknowns that come into play and the natural way to react to this is to avoid any experience you might have not experience so that the body is not faced with any kind of harm. Consequently, the mind will find more comfort in remaining and doing the things it is used with instead of trying to venture out to find out new things happening in other parts of the world. In such a case, it holds true that better deal with the devil you know than the angel you don’t.

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Consequently, the mind will find more comfort in remaining and doing the things it is used with instead of trying to venture out.

Traveling turns you into a different person

Change is a constant factor of life, and when it comes to traveling, it becomes even more pronounced. This is because you will be moving from one place to another, sampling one experience after the other. You will also be meeting different kinds of people, some whom you will like and others who will completely piss you off.

If you are traveling alone, you learn to be independent very first and if before you the travel you didn’t like the prospects of doing things on your own and taking charge or your own life, you find that you will be a completely changed person. There are some people who are truly scared about the prospects of such change, and instead of having to go through such in the name of traveling, they would rather stick to what they knew and just be as they have always been.

Fear and anxiety

When you leave for a trip abroad, like visiting Canada, the moment you fill the Canada ETA form and you are granted permission to get into the country, it will immediately dawn on you that you are now on your own and you have all the responsibility for taking care of yourself. At such moments, you can’t help but feel anxious about the unknown. If it is a destination you have never visited and you have probably heard about some bad stuff about it, the fear grows even bigger and you start to wonder why you had to take the trip in the first place.

travel
If you are traveling alone, you learn to be independent very first.

It is this fear of the unknown that is stopping millions of people around the world from traveling, even though they have the time and the money to travel. Some people will be constantly worried about their relatives back at home, while some will get depressed over uncertainties such as falling sick while away and much more. To them, home is always the best and there is no need to bother self to try travel to see other places. You can check out this link if you need more information about entry requirements to Canada, now that we have mentioned it.

Misinformation about certain destinations

Some people are also afraid to travel to certain destinations about some myths or wrong information they got about such places. For example, most people are afraid of traveling to certain countries in African and South America due to conflicts and high crime rates respectively. If you have never been to Kenya and you had that though it has some of the best Safari packages in the world, there are constant fights among communities due to politics, you will not be heading to Kenya simply because you don’t want to be caught in the middle of the conflict. Or, if you were thinking about going to Brazil, but you hear about the rampant violence by gangs on the streets, I guess you will also be changing your mind about taking your trip there.

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It is also possible that some people may be afraid to travel to new places due to bad experiences

Bad experience from past travels

It is also possible that some people may be afraid to travel to new places due to bad experiences they might have received while traveling in the past. There are so many things that can go wrong during trips and all of them are potential turn-offs from future travels. For example, losing your flight multiple times during the same trip can be disheartening. Also getting sick, injured or robbed during a trip may make you decide to never go for another trip again.