Spotlight on Nonny de la Peña, Immersive Journalist

 

I first met Nonny de la Peña a few years ago through the Knight News Challenge. She’d just started her project Stroome, a collaborative video editing tool, and I was about to spin off my KNC project Printcasting into BookBrewer. Nonny is still running Stroome on the side, but has meanwhile taken up residence at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg as a fellow at the Cinematic Arts School.

YouTube Preview ImageI ran into her at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco and was happy to see that she’s still plugging along, but even I couldn’t predict how incredibly cool her latest project is. Using virtual reality goggles, she can project you into a news story with audio from the actual event, and an incredibly realistic virtual environment and avatars that move around you in real time. You can get a sense for how it works in the 5-minute video above, but you really have to experience it to understand how transformative it is. Rather than reading about an event, or watching it on a monitor, you’re actually in it and reacting along with the other virtual witnesses around you.

Nonny has big plans for this technology, including theaters where people can buy a ticket to “ride” through a news story. After entering her first immersive project, which is about a food bank that was running out of food while an elderly man suffered a diabetic seizure, I give a high probability of success to her assertion that enterprising journalists will make a lot of money off traveling immersive VR shows.

She debuted her first project at the Sundance Film Festival, where she had 3-hour waiting lines and put 1,000 people through the experience. With interest like that, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a subset paying $10 each. Not only would that fund further development, but it would show that people will pay to walk a mile in someone else’s virtual shoes.

Newspaper sites are putting up paywalls in the hopes of getting people to pay for news, with limited success. Should they be setting up virtual news centers in shopping malls and selling tickets instead?

– Dan Pacheco

Professor Pacheco in the Press

2016 Mirror Awards Ceremony - YouTube

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  • Nonny de la Peña had this to say about Professor Pacheco after her acceptance of an I-3 Mirror Award.

    “Once the [Oculus] Facebook sale happened, $2 billion dollars, you’re not so nuts. But before that happened, a lot of people thought trying to do journalism in virtual reality was crazy...

Students, Faculty to Create Content for HoloLens Augmented Reality Headset

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  • Prof. Dan Pacheco has been accepted into the HoloLens developer program and will work with Newhouse students and faculty to create content for the device. - Dan Pacheco

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Immersive journalism: What virtual reality means for the future of storytelling and empathy-casting - TechRepublic

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  • Prof. Pacheco was interviewed by CBS Interactive's TechRepublic about using virtuality for journalism in the story: "Immersive journalism: What virtual reality means for the future of storytelling and empathy-casting." The piece also referenced Pacheco's Virtual Reality Storytelling course and included a link to a 360 video of the SU football team by class member and football player Eric Jackson...

http://storynext.gannett.com/state-of-vr.pdf

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  • Prof. Pacheco co-authored the primer on virtual reality in this report on The State of Virtual Reality in Journalism for Gannett and the Knight Foundation. - Dan Pacheco

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Daily Orange: Universities should embrace experiential media courses

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  • "There’s a virtual reality course being taught this semester in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications called Virtual Reality Storytelling. (Full disclosure: I am taking the course right now. It’s awesome.) The course’s professor, Dan Pacheco, says demand for the course is high, and for good reason in that it may set you apart in a job interview...

StoryNEXT conference features virtual reality – Hypergrid Business

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  • Professor Pacheco has been added to the advisory board for StoryNEXT, a new annual conference focused on innovators in virtual reality storytelling. - Dan Pacheco

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Recent Breakthroughs In Virtual Reality Go Beyond Simply Playing Video Games | ThinkProgress

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  • "“The more difficult and complicated the subject, the more we seem to want to close the news app and open up Candy Crush,” said Daniel Pacheco, a journalism professor at Syracuse University who specializes in VR storytelling. “VR can counteract this tendency because of its ability make you feel physically present somewhere and to comprehend information by exploring it in an almost physical way...

The Des Moines Register wins Murrow award for Harvest of Change VR Project

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  • The Des Moines Register's Harvest of Change, which was the first project to incorporate virtual reality in a commercial news setting, has won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow award. This emerged from Professor Dan Pacheco working as an innovator in residence at Gannett Digital, where he brought an Oculus Rift and knowledge of how to create VR experiences in Unity...

HoloLens Brings 3D Media Into the Physical World

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  • Professor Pacheco reports on his experience with an extended HoloLens demo at the E3 conference and provides ideas on how it could be used in journalism and media. - Dan Pacheco

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"All the President's Avatars"

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  • Professor Pacheco is interviewed by a Swedish tech magazine about virtual reality journalism. - Dan Pacheco

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Adobe Adds Mixamo 3D Animation Service To Creative Cloud Mix | TechCrunch

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  • "Students in Pacheco’s VR Storytelling course (http://vrstorytelling.org), most of whom have no 3D modeling experience, use Mixamo to easily and inexpensively add interactive characters to scenes that are viewed in Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets" -

    Welcome to the Washing Machine

    Comments:

    • Prof. Pacheco predicts the future media-disrupting technologies for CommPRObiz: "Part of my job as the Peter Horvitz Chair in Journalism Innovation is to look on the horizon and identify trends that might lead the next waves of disruption. I also challenge my students to do field tests of disruptive technologies, then use what they learn to predict where things will be in another 5 years...

Our list of the best 11 journalism experiments

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  • Columbia Journalism Review just listed the "Harvest of Change” virtual reality journalism project that Professor Pacheco co-produced at Gannett as one of 11 noteworthy journalism experiments today. BDJ senior, now graduated, also contributed as a developer. -