GoPro rig
Credit: Image by nrkbeta on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Immersive 360-degree video has been used more and more by news organisations since June 2014, when Google Cardboard made it possible for everyone to dip their toes into the fast-developing world of virtual reality with an affordable viewer.

Vice News's Millions March NYC, New York Times's Vigils in Paris, and Gabo Arora and Chris Milk's Waves of Grace are just a few of the news stories that were successfully told last year using 360-degree video.

After undertaking research to find out what audiences really want from immersive news, Sarah Jones, founder of 360 Immersive Labs at Coventry University, noted that VR may be a useful way to engage a younger audience in current affairs.

"You can see it targeting the younger generation who are looking for their news on social media, predominately on Facebook," she said.

Jones is constantly experimenting with 360-degree video, testing out the latest technology available to produce it, and what stories work best with the medium.

"If you're filming these things properly, it takes a lot of time and man-power. It's not as simple as I first thought when I started entering the 360 world," she said.

"I thought you just hit record, stitch it together and it's done – it's a lot more complicated than that!"

Journalists looking to give viewers the opportunity to have a "look around" using 360-degree video on social media can use cheaper cameras such as Ricoh Theta S to film footage, she said, whereas those wanting to tell a more complex story through it will need to have more kit, like a GoPro rig with at least six cameras.

Those getting started in the industry should watch all the 360-degree video they can, to try to establish how stories are told and what they think works best, and then go out themselves and start shooting their own footage.

Watch the full interview with Sarah Jones below.

Images by ETC-USCnrkbeta and Zach Dischner.
Video includes footage from 'Vigils in Paris' and 'The Displaced' from NYT VR.

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