Virtual Ride: North Salina Street by Flourish & Shubhika

Introduction

We are both broadcast journalism students, and we wanted to test how we could use new technology in covering stories. Our field test is on a story in the Syracuse area using the Ricoh Theta S device. The story we covered is about showing the reality of a poorer side of Syracuse. A recent report revealed that Syracuse has the highest rate of extreme poverty among blacks and Hispanics in the United States. We wanted to test if we could actually tell a story through 360 video to give our viewers an immersive experience of what these neighborhoods look like.

Hypothesis

360 video can be used to tell feature stories but will be difficult to use in covering breaking news. The technology will allow viewers to experience feature stories in a new way. In broadcast journalism, the reporter chooses what the viewer sees by selecting the shots to use in the package, but with 360 video, the viewer can be virtually present in the story. The audience can choose what to focus on and experience the whole environment for themselves.

Equipment 

For out test, we used the Ricoh Theta S ($350) and the Sunpak 6700m Monopod ($20).

Field Test & Results

First, we rented a Zipcar with a sunroof, so we could record the video from the top of the car to provide a 360 view of the street. The videos were easy to record; however, it was difficult to control because we could not see what we were recording. We tried using the Ricoh Theta S app, but it did not work because we did not have Wifi connection which was needed. Shubhika wanted to see if it was possible to conduct an interview using the Richo Theta S. It worked well because the viewer is present and can choose to look at the interviewer and interviewee. The audience is drawn to the voices and can locate the direction of them. It was easy to put the video together because the Ricoh Theta S app stitches the video for you. We used Final Cut to edit the different clips together and add background music.

Here is the video that resulted:

Conclusion

Our mission was accomplished, and we discovered that 360 video would work well for covering some stories. We thought that for interviewing it was a very interactive experience and can be used in broadcast journalism. However, the quality of video and audio produced by the Richo Theta S was quite low and cannot be used in an actual news station.