Tech We’re Using: Pioneering Virtual Reality and New Video Technologies in Journalism

Tech We’re Using: Pioneering Virtual Reality and New Video Technologies in Journalism

- in World Biz

How do you pilot test new technologies for video? How do you determine if something makes the cut for broader use in the newsroom?

Ms. Hopkins said that V.R. helps create a sense of place, such as an interactive music installation inspired by myths of forest spirits.

Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

Sometimes we practice with new cameras around the office or at home before using them on a story. Other times we send them out on a reporting trip for a trial by fire.

The first time we used the V.R. camera Z Cam S1, we took it to the hottest place on Earth: Danakil, Ethiopia, where temperatures can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. In the early days of our V.R. production, we’d had a lot of problems with cameras overheating and turning off. So we weren’t sure how the Z Cam would perform in such a difficult environment. To our delight, it never overheated as it captured stunning images for the resulting film, The Land of Salt and Fire.

What has been the strengths of using virtual reality for journalism? What unexpected stumbling blocks have you come across with it?

V.R. is great for creating a sense of place. We often use it for stories in which the place is important to the story and being there can create a visceral experience that is rare in other mediums. V.R. can transport our audience to places they otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t go, as in The Antarctica Series, which takes people below and above the ice of Antarctica.

Unexpected stumbling blocks arise frequently because we’re working on the edges of what we know how to do. There’s often a gap between how we want to tell a story and the tools that we have to do it. That’s when we hack available hardware or software to suit our needs.