360-degree video production is still a relatively niche market in the classroom, however this is changing and faculties across the University are finding ways to incorporate this learning tool into their subjects. When thinking about using 360 video we may ask: why use 360 video rather than traditional video? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of 360? What are the costs?

The case for learning with VR

Research suggests that students have a better retention rate when learning in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) spaces, that they are less distracted, and more engaged in the content. Used in conjunction with hotspots, the ability to use additional information through videos and links for example, this medium becomes a powerful tool.

Perhaps the best way to answer ‘why use 360 video?’ is to look at some of the ways it is being incorporating into subjects and assessment by FASS this year.

In Screen Ideas we ask the question: what does a screenplay for a CVR (Cinematic Virtual Reality) project look like on the page? To answer this, we utilised 360 video in a process of ‘digital scripting’ whereby emerging technology is used to explore screen ideas, where notions of place and space take precedence over character, story and plot. This is an exciting space to work in a learning and teaching environment – since the ‘norms’ of screenwriting are not yet fixed in this arena.

Alex Munt, FASS academic, subject coordinator for Screen Ideas.

Students are encouraged to use 360 video in their final assessment, which is a piece of long-form multimedia ‘immersive’ journalism. In class, discussions are held on the benefits and limitations of 360, including whether it serves the purpose of journalism for each story e.g. does it actually enhance the audience’s understanding of a particular issue/subject? Students are encouraged to discuss what sorts of journalism stories might 360 video suit? (e..g war zones) Immersive journalism is still in its infancy, but if we don’t apply the lessons we have learned to the medium, we risk letting the dust pile up on our VR headsets and leaving our 360 cameras abandoned in newsroom drawers.

Christine Kearney, subject coordinator, Digital Journalism and Beyond.

The Medialab

As a workshop teaching tool, the Medialab employs 360 videos to place students in a virtual film location shoot. In this space students navigate through a sequence of locations that can be problematic for setting up lighting, screens etc. These include a bathroom, a small space, and an environmentally-challenged space. Text prompts the student to respond to ideal and less ideal set ups. The video is an assessment task to gain proficiency to book and use lighting from the mediaLab’s equipment store.

Want to know more?

The Medialab is running a 2 hour workshop. This workshop will take you through the fundamentals of preparing, shooting and outputting a VR movie to your mobile device and headset. Learn how to light for 360 video, record sound, stitch your footage and edit with text, and learn the basics of outputting for viewing.

An introduction to VR production for your classes | 30 May

Feature image by Martin Sanchez.

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