February 4th, 2015 By Caspar Mason
When Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2bn, most observers realised they have plans for Virtual Reality that go far beyond gaming—even if crushed candy in fully immersive 360° HD is a dream come true for some. Zuckerburg’s talk of “useful, entertaining and personal experiences” shows where he sees the future of both VR and social networks.
So far, this promise of VR as a connector has been around the areas of entertainment, sports and friends’n’families. It hasn’t really meant current affairs…until now.
A so-hip-it-hurts combination of creative-tech god Chris Milk, director Spike Jonze and Vice have created an immersive news documentary/experience, filmed at New York’s December 2014 Million March protest rally, called ‘Vice News VR: Millions March’.
Correspondent Alice Speri guides the viewer through the protest, combining news reportage with 360° video and sound. So if you think the real story might be just out of shot, or if the camera pans away as things get interesting, you can turn your head and see for yourself.
You might’ve seen it at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Or you can download Milk’s VRSE app, get a super-cheap Google Cardboard kit and a pair of headphones and be transported into the heart of the protest rally.
Is it the future of news? Perhaps not. But it’s certainly a future of news. One with “the potential to fundamentally change journalism”, according to Milk. One that gives you a more visceral, emotional connection to current affairs and, by extension, the rest of the world. Is Milk right in hoping that “VR is the tool we need to stir more compassion for one another”?
We shall see (in glorious 360°).