New VR Content Shows the Future of News and Documentaries

Virtual reality is poised as the next revolution in storytelling, and the creators of VR content are not picking the easy stories. For example, Vice News is using VR to cover the New York Million March, a demonstration in which 25,000 people protested police violence. The United Nations’ campaign to raise awareness of vulnerable communities includes a VR film that follows the plight of 12-year-old Syrian refugee. Both the news report and the film are available on the VRSE platform, which makes such stories readily accessible. 

The immersive experiences from Vice News and the UN are available on Samsung Milk VR, which is essentially a “YouTube for the Samsung Gear VR.” People with an Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, the cheapest and most readily available VR headset, can also watch the content. For those without the VR viewer, the content is available on the VRSE app for iOS and Android, but the simple phone app does not give viewers the full 360-degree experience.


Vice News correspondent Alice Speri gives viewers a fully immersive experience from the middle of the action of the December protest. TechCrunch reports the Million March report has 360-degree video. Instead of just wandering around, users can follow Speri as she reports and guides them through the event. Filmmakers Chris Milk and Spike Jonze created the VR news report.

Milk also worked on the UN’s “Clouds Over Sidra” film. This is the first VR film from the UN, and it was designed to give people a glimpse of what it is like to live inside of a Syrian refugee camp. The film chronicles the daily life of a 12 year-old-girl in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. In a related article, TechCrunch called it a “powerful, immersive, and deeply moving experience.”

“Clouds Over Sidra” is not only an example of new storytelling, but the way that technology and social justice can come together. Right now, the world has the highest number of refugees and other internationally displaced people since World War II. The UN Millennium Campaign and UNICEF Jordan, along with UN Advisor Gabo Arora and Milk, partnered to create this film.

Video Feature: Signs That Virtual Reality is on the Verge of Taking OffThe New York Times, 1/28/15
The First Live VR Broadcast Brought the Beach to My BackyardEngadget, 1/26/15
Filmmakers Need a Virtual Reality Editing Suite, So Visionary VR Built ItTechCrunch, 1/25/15
Mozilla Wants to Bring Virtual Reality to the BrowserTechCrunch, 1/24/15
Is Virtual Reality the Future of News?The Independent, 1/23/15

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