On a rainy Thursday in late-April, history was made in an institution that is dedicated to history, namely, the Five Freedoms of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The first Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council East event at Newseum, entitled ‘Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and News,’ brought together the who’s who of virtual reality (VR) in the journalism industry, and sparked conversations that detailed the need for standards in virtual reality production.
Hosted at the Knight Conference Center at Newseum, with demos from the Knight Foundation; Washington Post; Associated Press, and Gannett Digital, the panel demonstrated the exceptional leadership in VR that journalists have exhibited. Knight Foundation’s Mitch Gelman; Washington Post’s Cam Blake; USA Today Networks’ Robert Padavick; Gannett Digital’s Ray Soto, and Associated Press’ Paul Cheung discussed a variety of topics, including the need to understand deadlines for VR (which, obviously, takes longer to produce); the need to understand how audiences perceive storytelling in VR, and the need to work on local levels for VR.
Watch the full video at https://youtu.be/iVOrFpJwfj8.
Moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and a former vice-chairman of the PGA New Media Council, the discussion ranged from lessons learned in technology, including how to stitch images so that objects and crew members do not appear – or do appear – in the frame; what camera rigs are doing to help shape storytelling; how apps are enabling a more democratic approach to VR, and how this exploratory period of VR journalism will open up new opportunities for documentarians and reporters.
The audience of more than 80 people asked astute questions, including why Web 1.0 VR companies, and their technologies, took so long to re-enter the scene, and how the “new digital divide” might be addressed by the panel.
The event was produced by the Newseum team, including Jeffrey Herbst, Cathy Trost, John Maynard, Scott Wiliams, and Jonathan Thompson, along with the PGA’s Renee Rosenfeld and Chris Pfaff.
This will likely be the first in a series of PGA-Newseum events addressing the VR arena. Stay tuned.
Chris Pfaff, (left), moderates the panel at Newseum
Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum, welcomes the audience
Paul Cheung, director of interactive for Associated Press, and Jeffrey Herbst
Ray Soto, Gannett, demonstrates the Gannett AR/VR program
Jeffrey Herbst and Paul Jastrzebski, developer relations manager with Oculus
Brian Savoie, director of technology education and outreach, and David Layer, senior director, advanced engineering, NAB
The Knight Foundation’s VR demo area at the event
Jon Harmon, filmmaker, experiences VR at the event