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VR and AR: The Art of Immersive Storytelling and Journalism

February 8, 2018

As we move into a world of immersive technologies, how will virtual and augmented reality transform storytelling?

From EDUCAUSE Review:

The Impact of Immersive Storytelling
The sense of presence in VR transforms the storytelling experience. Participants become part of an environment with an incentive to act and respond to the events they encounter. We see this in the early work of the virtual reality pioneer Nonny de la Peña at USC. Her groundbreaking Hunger in Los Angeles experience, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012, places you in the middle of a food bank line in LA (see figure 1). In her TED talk, de la Peña describes the first rule of VR design: Begin by thinking of your body in the space. The focus of VR design is not the camera frame, but the embodied visitor.

Built in Unity 3D with a body-tracking system and audio recordings of the actual event, the experience often triggers intensely emotional responses from the participants. Viewers walk into a virtual re-creation of the event, allowing them to experience and respond to it. The project was funded partially by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and its MxR interaction lab. A more recent experience from 2016, Across the Line, places participants in the middle of anti-abortion protestors outside an abortion clinic. Blending journalism with storytelling, de la Peña refers to her work as “advocacy journalism.”