Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Virtual Take on News; Companies Launch 360-Degree Film to Turn the Tide on Jaded Industry

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Virtual Take on News; Companies Launch 360-Degree Film to Turn the Tide on Jaded Industry

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Griffin

THREE companies have launched virtual reality-enabled news documentaries, hoping that the 360-degree films can lure back people turned off by conventional news.

One of the apps was made by Vice News, in partnership with digital artist Chris Milk and director Spike Jonze, to film the Millions March protests in New York in December.

Another called Hong Kong Unrest covered the Hong Kong protests and was made by the creators of immersiv.ly, an app that is being developed to make news journalism in virtual reality.

A third has been made by the UN, following a Syrian refugee. The film is called Clouds Over Sidra and was also created by Chris Milk, along with UN advisor Gabo Arora.

The launch of the three films all in one day is probably a coincidence - though one probably driven by Sundance Film Festival. The festival promotes new ways of making films as well as traditional ones.

All three films seek to seize on the growing interest in virtual reality. The technology is associated most closely with gaming, but has been put to diverse uses including recruiting soldiers for the army and filming a concert by Paul McCartney.

Those uses often require expensive and complex headsets and computers - such as Oculus Rift, which is expected to launch in a consumer version of its headset by the end of the year. But the same technologies can be used without any special equipment - the Hong Kong film can be watched on a normal screen, scrolling around the scene using the mouse or trackpad, or watching a version that has been flattened so the whole of the 360-degree picture is seen.

The films can also be watched using Google Cardboard, a simple version of a virtual reality headset that can be made with little more than a piece of cardboard and a phone.

The technology is likely to become even more mainstream in the coming weeks, when YouTube is expected to unveil 360-degree videos on the platform. …

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