Virtual Reality, or VR as the kids say it these days, is a phenomenon that is taking over the tech scene. Virtual reality has been known since the 1980s but concept behind it is a little older.
Morton Heilig was part of Hollywood scene in the 1950s and he wanted audiences to feel as if they were in the movie, rather than just watching it. He started with the Sensorama Machine. This machine used sound, smell, vibration and wind to create the illusion that the viewer was on a motorbike. But Mr Heilig wasn’t done there. He went on the create the first prototype of the VR goggles we use today.
Thanks to his initial concept and design, and through advance technologies and the development of 360 cameras, viewers can now experience an alternate reality as if they are physically there.
What does this mean for journalism?
Humans have been driven by a desire for knowledge for centuries, and journalists have in turn developed the skills of storytelling to sate that taste. With the advancements in technology, journalist can now give their audiences the experience of being amongst the action, rather than just reading it.
As seen with the clip above, when done correctly a 360 video can work well without the use of a VR device. The structure of the video and simple content allows viewers to manipulate the video with ease. Then there are cases when a publication seems to jump on the bandwagon a bit too quickly. Take this Wall Street Journal video for example. They are introducing VR through the experience of VR. Meta anyone?
While the Wall Street Journal has taken the time and effort to create a video utilising this new form of technology, it is a little overwhelming. Not only do audiences need to grapple with this new concept, they also need to navigate the technology. Advice for those who wish to create 360 videos: keep it simple. Audiences want to be mesmerised by what they see. They don’t want to feel like they’ve just stepped into a rave.