ABC News announced the release of a VR experience now available on Jaunt VR’s iOS and Android apps. The video follows ABC News’ Alexander Marquardt as he reports on curatorial efforts to preserve endangered antiquities in Damascus, Syria, the capital of the country that has been embroiled in both a civil war and a fight against ISIS for some four years. ISIS in particular has repeatedly targeted and destroyed culturally and historically significant sites in Syria.
The press release that accompanied the announcement labeled the Damascus experience ABC News’ “inaugural project,” meaning that more VR content is likely forthcoming. The footage was shot with “one of Jaunt’s stereographic cinematic VR cameras”, although Jaunt VR tells us not their new high-end 360 stereoscopic camera NEO. The new initiative’s launch coincides with content to be aired on ABC’s “World News Tonight” and “Nightline” programs.
The press release consists of a note-to-staff by ABC News president James Goldston; in it, he affirms that his staff will receive free Google Cardboards, perhaps a sign that ABC News wants its staff to have some personal knowledge of the technology behind the new piece.
ABC News’ move into original VR content is not exactly surprising; the New York Times, along with other new outlets, has released VR pieces in the last year. Look for this trend to continue as more news media organizations seek to exploit VR’s immersive storytelling power.