NBC has launched a new, standalone digital video studio today (13 June) called NBC Left Field, which will focus on creating short documentaries and features for social media platforms.

The current team of 12, based in New York and London, is made up of cinematographers, journalists, animators and social media producers.

Matt Danzico, who heads up the studio, explained that the initiative aims to be an experimental NBC hub for different video styles and audience engagement.

"We want to think about what video could and should look like in 2017 – it's about pushing the boundaries with the moving image and seeing what we can do," he told Journalism.co.uk.

"What does cinematic storytelling look like for social when it involves news features?"

The content of the videos, which Danzico said will vary in length depending on the story, will range from pieces based on issues in the news, to softer features on global topics.

With a team that speaks English, Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Amharic and Afrikaans, they hope to incorporate a variety of news items and cultural interests in their work.

"We want to push forward a more informed democracy and public in the United States, but also make content that will entertain people."

In the next few months, audiences can expect to see stories on refugee squats in the Netherlands, debates over wild horses in Colorado, coal mining in Kentucky, military youth camps in Ukraine, and the opening of an unusual museum in Sweden.

One of NBC Left Field's launch pieces, The Asylum Squatters of Amsterdam, looks at asylum seekers that are not granted refugee status or permits in the Netherlands, who are scared of being imprisoned by the authorities.

"As we go, we want to hear the audience's feedback in order to help us craft better videos with each release – it is about learning and evolving as we go."

The team is also going to be producing a variety of Facebook Lives, along with a side project called 'Field Phone', which is a telephone line that viewers can call to listen to audio versions of NBC stories, leave story tips, share their experiences and request video links to be sent to their mobile phone via SMS.

"We want to collect viewers' stories from around the globe and animate the audio for our social feeds, or go and find them and document their story," Danzico said, explaining he has always been interested in crowdsourced journalism.

"We are going to launch a myriad of different engagement projects through this unit – we want to create a product that is digestible and needed."

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