David Grossman, Newsnight’s Technology Editor, became News Labs’ first VR reporter helping us to reinvent how we to tell stories in 360. We filmed in Westminster – on College Green and Westminster Bridge, overlooking Parliament – familiar news locations transformed by 360 – and in the Daily Politics studio.
We aimed to show how VR might challenge traditional formats – such as pieces to camera and interviews – and demonstrate the impact of different camera angles. To avoid spending time on research and location permissions, we kept things simple, and created a film in VR about VR.
Here’s a short film about how it was filmed.
The crew (Peter Boyd Maclean, Dr Peter Passmore, and Zillah Watson)are in shot throughout. In busy locations, such as Westminster Bridge, this is currently unavoidable for practical and safety reasons. The crew may just need to be part of the story.
We kept things simple, and turned it around fast. With more time, more work on “stitching” could be done, and better edits could be made, lining up points of interest between cuts, rather than just fading to black. And we’d continue to improve sound. But what we’ve achieved here probably represents reasonable production values for 360 news content, given that the focus will always be on capturing the right pictures to tell the story, and turning it around fast.
As we continue to experiment, the possibilities for filmed VR to allow people to experience presence in places they couldn’t otherwise visit– from the streets of Brazil to a school in China - are becoming clearer. The technology’s not quite ready, but new developments are reported every week. And it’s good enough to focus on the biggest challenge – how to tell memorable stories in 360. Then VR can truly help bring “the UK to the world and the world to the UK”.
Article by Zillah Watson, Editor, R&D (working with Peter Boyd Maclean, and Dr Peter Passmore, Middlesex University)