Photojournalism in 3D for VR and Beyond

In this project, students will use modern approaches to making 3D images both with hardware and software processing.

Ever since the 1870s, photography technology has been trying to break into the 3rd dimension: An estimated 70 percent of documentary photography during the Civil War was in 3D. Today, modern devices are capable of delivering more immersive images than ever before, In virtual reality, and with mobile phones, viewers can move around in a space, which means photography needs to capture a true 3D image instead of a pair off offset images. In this project, students will use modern approaches to making 3D images both with hardware and software processing. They will identify a story or stories that would benefit from immersive navigable moments in time. The students will photograph the story and present it as a web story with VR pieces as a prototype example of what is possible with these new approaches.

3D scanners like the structure scanner and matterport have been created for uses other than journalism but they might be adapted and utilized for reporting. Photogrammetry is a software technique for processing many photos and constructing a 3D model/image from the information in the image set. The ideal story for this project will utilize several of these approaches.


Results from the project

  • A New Look-Around Cosplay

    Photogrammetry 3D models from the floor of Chicago's C2E2 Comic Convention

    12-feet of dark feathers, a noir-detective's trench coat, blue tie and black boots was a sight to see on a 5-foot stature. Truly appreciating her costume required seeing it from all angles—exactly the reason we went to make 3D models of cosplayers at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. She spent a lot of late nights on this high school science fair project—but even when she was eliminated at the regional level, Morgan was re-gluing...

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  • 3D Modeling in the field

    Capturing People for Photogrammetry With a Smartphone

    Virtual reality has been called an internet-sized opportunity. But the Internet only attracted the billions of users it has today once every user was empowered to create, contribute and share content, whether they could code or not. Similarly, making something today for VR generally requires coding skills. However, there may be an easy solution from the surveying industry: Photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is any process that uses photos to make measurements. Initially, surveyors used it to create...

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  • Photogrammetry for Journalism

    Documenting reality in 3D

    The ability to recreate an object in 3D to be viewed and handled in virtual reality seems like something you would read in a science fiction novel. In fact, as early as 1950, Ray Bradbury entertained the idea of a virtual reality nursery in "[The Veldt](" - his short story about two children who solve their anger with their parents by escaping to a simulated grassland. Photogrammetry is the science of deriving measurements from photographs....

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  • Photogrammetry Tools Review

    The winner is clear, but expensive.

    Journalists know the maxim, "show, don't tell" creating engaging stories. We spent ten weeks exploring tools for creating 3D photogrammetry models which can be used to show story subjects in an entirely new way. Here we present a rundown of what we learned. For any journalist interested in creating 3D photogrammetry models there are two key steps: capture and processing. The basic gist is this: a journalist shoots about 100 images during the capture process,...

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  • The 4 Key Components to Photogrammetry Capture

    Location, stillness, camera settings and camera movement

    Whether you are in a controlled or uncontrolled environment, there are four key components for successful photogrammetry capture: [location](#location), [stillness](#stillness), [camera settings](#camera-settings) and [camera movement](#camera-movement). Paying close attention to these will help reduce tiling, blurring and other issues when scanning photogrammetry objects. Location lighting, shadows, refraction and reflections During the post-processing of a photogrammetry model, most of the cleanup necessary is due to bad lighting conditions present while shooting in the field. Strange white or...

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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


Jessica Buchleitner

Author of the 50 Women anthology series and Co-lead Editor/Producer Stories from Girls and Women of Mogadishu. United Nations delegate now obsessed with committing acts of journalism using virtual and augmented reality.

Theodore Chryssos

Lifestyle journalist studying marketing communications, emerging-media geek, VR acolyte, amateur videographer, stationery enthusiast.

Henry Keyser

VR Journalism Student; focusing on media innovation, product management, TV Producing. Also a relapsing playwright.