Transforming news reporting and documentaries when portrayed using 360 video (AKA VR video) allows the content to become so much more direct and personal.
There are hundreds of examples online, but whether it’s studying the effects of climate change in Antarctica or swimming with hammerhead sharks in the Bahamas, everything is so much more tangible with a 360 view. Instead of simply being a passive bystander you feel like an active participant in the story. And perhaps when you feel like events are happening to you rather than someone else, you’ll take more notice. Try it for yourself…
Mosul: Fight against ISIS from the sky in 360 video
In this extraordinary video, you get to hitch a ride on an Iraqi MI-28 Havoc helicopter as it conducts a combat mission over the city of Mosul. Your 360-degree journey is narrated by a BBC journalist, who points out where you need to look so you don’t miss a thing. The combination of VR video and some pop-up infographics explains the conflict in a way that standard news coverage cannot hope to match.
The Land of Salt and Fire
The New York Times believes that the 360 video format is important enough to have its own web page. The stories the US newspaper tells here range from a snowstorm blowing through New York city to a mesmerising visit to Dallol in Ethiopia, one of the hottest places on Earth – a technicolour landscape of sulphur, salt and poisonous cyan waters.
Predicting Antarctica’s fate by studying the Ross Ice Shelf
Similarly, news feature and documentary video meet in this VR-friendly exploration of Antarctica’s Ross Island ice shelf. It’s a cold and desolate environment, a place few humans will ever visit. Filming in 360 video allows the viewer to take in the vastness of this frozen continent, where sea ice stretches to the horizon in every direction.
It’s early days for 360-degree video and you can see that broadcasters/news organisations are still experimenting with how best to use it. What’s clear, however, is that the format has enormous potential for telling compelling and more immersive stories.
Crucially, with 360 video you are not restricted to a static ‘frame’, so your viewing experience isn’t determined by what the camera is pointing at.
Of course, the fact that 360 video allows you to look anywhere throws up an interesting challenge – how do you make sure that viewers look where you need them to look? As these news and documentary videos show, a voiceover seems to be the answer. By explaining what you can see, and pointing out interesting elements along the way, each video story becomes a personalised tour from the reporter.
View the video using a VR headset and it’s almost like you’re right there with them.
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