Behind the scenes in our Innovative Experimental Journalism class! During our experience in this class, we have had the opportunity to talk to high achieving journalists/VR innovators/social media experts/360 video pioneers.

Here is a mini section of the live webcam interview with VR innovator Dan Archer:

Q: When you are picking a project, what are you looking for in a pitch? 

A: The best example is the Ferguson piece. The space around you is the most important thing to consider and how you would view it through a headset. In a sense, the spatialized aspect of the space needs to be there, for example how the space can facilitate the user’s journey through that space. [Ferguson background info] In the case of Ferguson, there was a lot of focus on the protests, instead I wanted to talk about the actual space where the story applied to Michael Brown.  I wanted to know: how can we represent all of these aspects of the incident through the space? We created three beacons to help direct the audience through the scene. You have numbered beacons corresponding to the testimonies. You have evidence beacons. The third were additional, you saw 3D representations of what you were hearing. You have comics. Focal points or points of interest. You need these beacons to help guide the audience through the world because people need guidance. When we first created it as a completely open world, the user testers wondered the purpose of the space. I just wanted them to explore but people find it to be straining and time consuming. You want to make sure the beacons are driving force in the movement through the story.

Archer has pioneered VR journalism with projects such as a virtual reality project involving a replay of Ferguson, Missouri. He collaborated with software developers, voice actors and used witness testimonies to construct a narrative of what happened that day.

Check Out More on Dan Archer’s Virtual Ferguson Project

-Natalie Lorenze