The Newseum has added virtual reality (VR) to its exhibits. Attendees can try out VR and see the top ten VR stories of the month. AAF-DC held a meet up at the Newseum on Wednesday morning to see the media of the future in person.
Over the past two years a flurry of media activity associated with VR has propelled the technology forward as an exciting storytelling medium.The New York Times distributed one million cardboard VR viewers to its subscribers. VR is becoming recognized as a best use of technology within journalism awards. And, the Knight Foundation and Google teamed with the Newseum to support a 360 degree Journalism initiative that helps the media experiment with immersive storytelling.
The initiatives and growth come as corporate investments in VR headset and viewing technologies increase. Now there are a wide variety of viewing options, from using your smartphone as a screen to Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus to the Sony Playstation.
Cameras are evolving, too. Many VR cameras stitch several shots together to create imagery. Most low-end cameras are not good enough for high quality videos people have come to expect with VR headsets and theaters. The Nokia Ozo offers the high end of the spectrum with eight cameras and microphones working together (priced at $30-$60,000). GoPro also offers a wide array of devices from consumer grade to professional. Nikon will release its KeyMission 360 VR Camera next month at a highly accessible price point ($500).
One of the biggest concerns with VR is the average user’s inability to create quality content. Fortunately, some VR best practices have emerged. One is to provide a sense of physical presence in the video. Then content creators need to add perspective to that presence, which in turn provides the high quality storytelling that folks enjoy.
Those who want the most advanced VR can experience with the medium in a walk-around theater. In addition to being fully immersed in a VR environment, a walk around theater allows you to teleport from scene to scene, dramatically changing your physical environment. Hello, Star Trek – The Next Generation. Speaking of fascinating “holodeck” like scenes, the Newseum is currently working on a Berlin Wall walk-around VR experience.
Is virtual reality the next generation of media? The Newseum has established some benchmarks to help determine VR’s growth via Journalism 360 initiative. Now we can watch the VR story unfold.
What do you think of VR?