Navigating Virtual Reality

Though many in journalism are excited about VR, few are addressing real issues with making it attractive and interactive for their audience. This story team will explore the idea of making multiple three-dimensional VR photos around a scene and linking them together so that the user can navigate it. They’ll be exploring complex VR design challenges, such as how to move around space without disorienting the user and how to easily author interactive environments.

Faculty and Staff Leads

Zach Wise

Associate Professor

Emmy winning interactive producer & Associate Professor @NorthwesternU, @KnightLab. Formerly of The New York Times. Creator of TimelineJS & StoryMapJS

Project Details

2017 Winter
A Tool for Creating Shareable, Embeddable WebVR Stories

Description

This team is looking at how to accommodate image formats from a variety of popular 360-degree cameras, including iPhone panoramas. The goal is to make a tool not only for journalists but also for any storyteller looking to tell a story in VR. Though many in journalism are excited about VR, few are addressing real issues with making it attractive and interactive for their audience. Building on the research and prototypes from the previous quarter's "Navigating VR" project, this team will begin building a tool to create an embeddable 360 experience. The authoring tool will allow users to annotate a 360-photo with rich media and allow navigation to other panoramas (a-la-Google-Streetview). The team will look at how to accommodate image formats from a variety of popular 360-degree cameras, including iPhone panoramas. The goal is to make a tool not only for journalists but also for any storyteller looking to tell a story in VR. This is a tech-forward project that will provide students with hands-on experience building with front-end technologies such as WebGL and JavaScript.

Important Questions
  • How might we design a VR news experience that is easy to create using a variety of image formats (iPhone, Omni, Gear 360, etc)?
  • How do we create an authoring tool that doesn't demand technical expertise in order to create, share and embed a VR experience to the user's audience?
  • Can we offer export options to Facebook and any other platforms servicing VR? At what cost?
  • How do we make the pieces both interactive and available on various VR platforms and on non-VR enabled devices (ie Desktop and phones without a cardboard etc)
  • What types of rich media should we support?
Sample Milestones
  • Week 1 Understand and experience the scope of previous quarter's work. Get familiar with ways of making VR images and the formats they create.
  • Week 2 Explore WebVR and it's limitations, explore and get familiar with Three.js.
  • Week 3-4 Decide on technical approach and paper prototype UI for authoring tool and decide sharing options and iterate.
  • Week 5-6 Start building, leading to MVP for week 7.
  • Weeks 7-10 Iterate, document, refactor, clean up code.
Outcome

A working prototype for an authoring tool that creates shareable and embeddable 360 experiences. The tool will be functional by the end of the quarter, ready for a product page and messaging to bring it into the real world. Students will go deep on product development —not only user testing for features of the authoring tool, but how to work quickly to build a piece of shippable software.

Presentation Slides
Students

Greg Kim

Alex Stone

2016 Fall
Navigating Virtual Reality

Description

Though many in journalism are excited about VR, few are addressing real issues with making it attractive and interactive for their audience. This story team will explore the idea of making multiple three-dimensional VR photos around a scene and linking them together so that the user can navigate it. They’ll be exploring complex VR design challenges, such as how to move around space without disorienting the user and how to easily author interactive environments.

Links
Presentation Slides