“It is not enough for strong photographs to end up in a photographer’s retrospective on the walls of some museum and in the pages of a glossy book–they need to be much more revelatory and useful now.” — Fred Ritchin, After Photography
The advent of 360° and 3D video is quickly transforming the media environment. While video game technology leads the charge into VR, we’re also seeing innovative applications of 360° and 3D video in education, marketing and journalism. Tools to make immersive 360° and 3D experiences–which used to be prohibitively expensive in terms of both time and money–are becoming more prevalent, inexpensive and easy-to-use for the interested prosumer. Take Viar360 for example, a strikingly intuitive cloud-hosted 360° video storytelling tool that can bridge multiple headset, mobile and desktop viewing platforms. Cameras such as the 360fly 4K and LG360 provide affordable options for capturing 360° content with a relatively low learning curve.
Armed with these powerful storytelling tools, creators can add incredible depth and layers to stories that resonate with viewers’ ability to contextualize and empathize with content. Global transboundary issues such as immigration, climate change, pollution, refugee diaspora, natural disaster, terrorism and conflict/war are all potential subjects that are ripe for 360° and 3D video. These storytelling platforms are powerful mediums that can transport viewers into the fold of the realities that affect peoples’ lives and the world writ large. Perhaps the 2D image, in its printed and web form, is detaching by nature in that it limits our ability to truly connect with subjects and grapple with the complexities of situations that are distant from us. When experienced through a headset, 360° and 3D video–coupled with audial immersion–promise to change that, with added layers of sensory perception that allow us to be there, but not there. We’re not detached, we’re non-attached. And there’s a big difference between the two. If done effectively, after taking off a headset following a 360° story, we’re not left with a feeling of helplessness. Instead, we’re left longing to know and do more. What we need, now more than ever, are more meaningful ways to witness the gamut of our human condition–both the tragic and the beautiful–through stories that inform and inspire us to take action. 360° and 3D video may provide that.