My first taste of Virtual Reality

Blogger, Bristol, Journalism, Life, Media, Virtual Reality, Visual Journalism

One of my modules this year is Journalism Innovations, and it’s my favourite.

Before university, I had never heard about Virtual Reality, and so I think it’s very refreshing to have someone intelligent educate me on what it is, what it does, and what good it can do for journalism. In my opinion, there is nothing more appealing than to “learn something new everyday”, and I find so satisfying to learn new things in relation to journalistic practice and workflow. Even better if it’s in relation to technology.

Being so technology savvy, I immerse myself in all things technological on a regular basis. Disregarding the fact that I have grown up in a generation where people as young as four are addicted to iPads and able to use smart devices, I have always taken great satisfaction in learning about what’s going on in the technological world. I loved Tamagotchi’s when they were in, the gameboys then the Nintendo DS, grey play stations, my Xbox, and never forgetting the Nokia’s, Motorola’s and notorious iPhone 3.

Now I’m typing this blogpost on my Macbook Pro, my iPhone 6S is on charge and I’m speaking about how my university course involves the learning of topics such as Mobile Journalism, Robots, Drones and Virtual Reality. How technology has evolved.

MySpace, Bebo, and MSN have disappeared, leaving Facebook, YouTube and technological innovations to take the reigns.

“The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. In technical terms, virtual reality is used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.” (Curzon, J. 2016)

It’s incredible to think that virtual reality creates another form of escapism. It’s the mere fact that we can virtual spaces, places and features with reality and have it all feel very real. I used Google Cardboard in my first Journalism Innovations workshop on VR, and found it very fascinating considering it’s only what, £3.26 or something? For what it’s worth, you should definitely experience it – but I would be lying if I was to say that you’ll be taken to another world. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have your senses claimed by something that’s attempting to take you to another world. Do it.

To say that I’m so excited to see what’s to come over the next few years for VR. Virtual Reality headsets probably won’t be what every kid is screaming to have for their main present for Christmas this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were nagging for it next year.

Next week I’m going to the innovations lab and we get to use the expensive stuff. I can’t contain my excitement.

Have you used any VR headsets? Tell me what you think of VR, augmented reality, anything! Thanks for reading.

Rebecca x

I WANT DAVID ATTENBOROUGH’S VOICE

Journalism, Media, Visual Journalism

Africa, BBC 1, 6/2/2013(!), 2100hrs

  • Amazing birds-eye views of the African landscape
  • Authentic wildlife representation
  • David Attenborough’s script matching what is shown on screen, giving depth and quality 
  • Direct mode-of-address to the camera from David Attenborough, encouraging that sense of relationship
  • Nice NATSOT during ‘Afirca’
  • Natives/locals speaking, giving reality and sense of place to the programme

The structure of ‘Africa’
Different elements (e.g., talking heads, observational etc.) the programme contains. 

‘Africa’ is almost 100% observational. Birds-eye shots of the African landscape, extreme-long shots and wide-shots, long-shots of the animals whilst they are interacting with each other and moving across Africa. There are extreme close-ups of lions which seem like they’re in slow motion and very beautiful to watch, especially if you appreciate wildlife.

Similar to news package elements in the way that an audience can receive information from watching ‘Africa’. Not only is the programme aesthetically pleasing, the factual information about predators and their prey is interesting.

This documentary has less talking heads than a regular news package, since you see David Attenborough address the screen directly as if he is talking to you, and then an African native who is describing how fulfilling it feels to capture a lion. With the direct mode of address though, it seems as though you are having a conversation with them through the screen, something that is satisfying when you’re watching something on Television; especially for me, since it feels like you’re more involved in what you are viewing.

There appears to be a narrative, since the member of the African tribe who talks of hunting lions has a change of heart throughout the sequence. During this, we are shown lions messing around together, a pregnant lion and so on, and then the tribe member talks of how he began to feel guilty after hunting, and now instead of doing what used to fulfil him, he now admires the lions in their beauty. Along with other warriors, he becomes what is described as a “lion guardian.” Instead of hunting lions, they’re protecting them.

A nice aspect of ‘Africa’ is the inspirational music that is occasionally played behind the voice-over.

David Attenborough as a structuring device

David Attenborough has such a calming voice. I want it. He is a soul who explains interesting things with delicacy whilst at the same time achieving the objective of providing something that is stunning yet informative – in the sense that he doesn’t make an audience question what is on the screen.

You see Attenborough interacting with the African natives, a really nice touch to the programme, since this makes it easier to recognise his interest and curiosities towards their way of life. I think this gives flavour to ‘Africa’. It is nice to see a relationship between the two – especially when the conversation seems more like a relaxed conversation than an interview.

David Attenborough gives direction and sequence to ‘Africa’, as a structuring device. It seems as though he breaks the programme up and gives it more depth by what he says and the way he speaks. His tone of voice is easy to listen to and his hand gestures are the perfect tool to keep an audience captivated.

After watching this episode of ‘Africa’, I have learnt about the change in warrior’s behaviour towards the lions. Traditionally, the lion the warrior hunted took the name of the lion. Now, the lion takes the name of the warrior who protects it. David Attenborough describes this as “21st century conservation in action” and I found it lovely to watch.

This also reminds me of how much I really want to go to a wildlife conservation to see so many different animals. I have only ever been to Bristol zoo and Barcelona zoo and even though Barcelona zoo was utterly breathtaking, growing up I have gained more knowledge or could you say awareness as to what goes on in these particular environments and now I do not necessarily agree. I would much rather see animals in their natural habitats, where instead of being forced how to live and what to do, they are free to be free. 

Plus, cubs are so cute!!!! I want to hold one.

Thanks for reading!

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