Over the past months, we have seen numerous examples of VR storytelling approaches – be it 360 video or in CGI (for updates, follow us on Twitter or check out our weeknotes – we try to keep you informed at all times).
I am convinced that virtual reality can add value to news stories – or non-fictional storytelling in general for that matter. However, the production process still takes a long time, so publishing something in VR quickly and easily is not really an option – yet. Especially when it comes to hard news, I don’t think we are thinking in VR terms yet. Another thing missing right now: what if you’d like to easily add something in VR that originally comes from the web? What if you’d like to combine Google Street View with Tweets? Or a number of YouTube videos with a few comments from users in VR?
Experimenting with various items in VR
Our artist, musician and VR enthusiast Jan Ahrens experimented with Unity and added new 3D-prefabs for Tweets with an extra canvas for images and other media. He also added a YouTube video and two websites to a scene – just to see whether this might work or not.
His experiments came with a few challenges:
I also added the typical icons and the font Twitter uses. I tried to follow their guidelines on how to present a Tweet for broadcasting as closely as possible, but the appearance can still be optimized.
Tweets in VR?
The user pic and other images are now automatically loaded from the web and presented on the 3D Tweet. “At the moment,” Jan points out, “full images are shown by default, this could be an option with an alternative of showing the thumbnails and expanding per tweet and image when needed. The object that acts as a canvas for the picture automatically adjusts its height to accommodate to the aspect ratio of the loaded picture.”Replies to Tweets can also be shown and Retweets are filtered out, as well. Whether this kind of approach makes sense from a journalistic point of view will have to be discussed. With this experiment, the technical possibilities are clear and I can already think of a lot of examples where a combination of web items can be helpful – even in VR.
#DDJ in VR?
A second experiment Jan is currently working on is a combination of various data visualizations in VR. A LOT has been talked about graphs in 3D – usually, not in a good way and we’ll see where this is going.
My idea was to combine different data types (Tweets and pie charts of three dimensional data) and I thought in how far this could be interesting.
It would be good to know if you know any great VR examples where web items, social media content or data visualizations are tested. Let us know!