Bringing 360-degree video and virtual reality (VR) to journalism


Imagine your readers having this reaction to a story.


This video was a roller coaster ride simulated by a computer. But what if the same thing could happen in journalism?

With cameras and rigs that allow us to film in all directions, and a create 360-degree view.

With platforms like Youtube and Facebook that allow 360-degree video to be uploaded and shared on the Internet.

With mobile apps that bring virtual reality content directly to your phone to be watched on more and more accessible and cheaper headsets.

Virtual Reality technology is the next great wave in media. We are beginning to be at the same point as when cellphones started becoming popular.

For my project I partnered with Fusion. Fusion is a joint venture between Disney and Univision.

One of the goals of Fusion is to experiment with new technologies to prepare their parent companies for the future.

My project was to research how to use 360-degree cameras for Investigative Unit at Fusion. This is the first 360 video we made.

As you see, today we have two types of content in virtual reality, one created by a computer — the other by a camera.

The first one has more history. Because it’s made entirely by a computer it allows for much more interaction.

The second — 360-degree video — is really new, only pioneers have been trying it lately. Because it is created by a camera, we can explore, but we still cannot really interact.

What’s happening now is that these two fields are CONVERGING.

That is why filmmakers are beginning to talk about the possibilities of volumetric filmmaking. The capacity to film and 3D model a real scene, capturing pixels with depth. So we can film people like this woman with depth and place her in a virtual environment.

For my project, I was one of the first three beta testers of the new VR version of Klynt, an interactive editing software.

Klynt VR, is one of the first software programs that will allow us to create interactions inside 360-degree videos. Like this short sample:

And more importantly, it allows editors start placing spatial sound in video.

In this demo you can see how inside this video I’m able to position the sound of the TV or the window so the user will be able to feel the changes as she explores the video.

By now, we can all agree that VR is a new medium. The workflow to produce it is different, the way users interact with the content is new.

And little by little we begin to acknowledge how big of a shift this is. When Molly Swenson from Ryot said the following, during the StoryNext Summit.

Or the creators of The Displaced realized:

Also myself I have encountered many shifts and challenges when trying to do journalism with this technology. For example:

In journalism we used to think: the crew cannot appear in the shot. In 360 video that is impossible. So how do we solve that?

Maybe we are going from asking questions to agreeing to scenes.

And what about using light in 360? See this test:

So maybe we are going from:

The audiovisual language for 360-degree video is completely new.

One thing we know for sure. We will soon be able to put the viewer inside the story.

Meanwhile 360-degree videos and virtual environments are converging.

I would like to encourage you to begin testing low cost cameras and edit short experiments. The tech is changing quickly. No one has mastered it yet just jump in and start using these tools!

The workflows are becoming more and more complex. We have to understand other backgrounds and fields that we can now apply to journalism.

Share your findings! We are in the infancy of this new medium and we have to learn all together the possibilities and complexities of it.

I leave you with quote of the godmother of VR in Journalism. See how bizarre but inspiring this quote becomes in the context of journalism.

This project wouldn’t have been possible with the help and collaboration of many people at Fusion, specially Ketih Summa and Adrian Saravia. Also I wanna thank my classmates at NYU and Jay Rosen, the people at Klynt VR and many conversations I had in these past months.

Also I want to thank my friends and family. Thank you very much.

***Slides and notes of my final presentation at Studio 20 NYU

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