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Virtual and Augmented Reality
As you develop your video and reporting skills, incorporating the latest technologies journalists use in the field will only help you. VR/AR use in journalism is growing. This guide will help you learn different ways it can be used in journalism.
Check out the rest of this page for an overview of AR and VR journalism and click on the tabs for communities to join and research to guide and inspire your work.
Types of VR
- 360 Video:
- 360 video utilizes a spherical field of vision. The viewer is tethered to a single point but can rotate 360 degrees to see all around them. Platforms like Facebook and Youtube enable users to scroll through a scene using their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Special goggles or headgear are not required and viewers can use their fingers to scroll, or physically move their phone or tablet to view the 360 visual.
- Room-scale Virtual Reality:
- Wearing a headset, users can roam a specified area and experience an immersive interaction with the space and story. Also called "volumetric virtual reality."
- Creates environments that allow person to be "present" in other environment.
- Augmented Reality: Starts with real world and overlays with objects and information (think Snapchat filters)
Virtual and augmented reality are already in use--you use it when you choose a Snapchat filter or if you participated in the Pokemon Go gaming phenomenon. They're used in other gaming, in entertainment, in anti-bullying efforts, and in news production. Estimates suggest VR could be a $60 billion industry in 2020.
With the boom in VR/AR, it is still in its early stages in terms of everyday use and developing novel ways to integrate it into people's daily lives. For journalists interested in the medium, it is a time to be creative and at the forefront of something new.
As in all journalism, regardless of medium, it is essential as the reporter to use VR/AR with the highest ethical standards. Here are some things to keep in mind when shooting and editing in VR/AR:
- Accuracy: Virtual reality demands accuracy, just like in any other reporting tool. When crafting a virtual world as a stand-in for traveling to a space in time, sounds and visuals must accurately reflect the actual space. Any sounds or visuals to augment the virtual scene must be carefully considered and used only if they bring a better sense of accuracy to the scene.
- Fairness: As in journalism at large, being fair requires judgment calls and making sure your reporting covers the necessary facts. In VR/AR, people participating in the medium may be more susceptible to missing pieces of data or voiceover because they are preoccupied with the visceral experience of "being there." This should be considered while shooting and editing to help viewers digest all the necessary information.
- Transparency: VR/AR producers should be transparent about their work process.
More information about best practices can be found here: Frontline's Guide for Creating Virtual Reality Journalism