The Associated Press has become the latest news organization to turn to virtual reality as a journalism tool.
The AP said today it is partnering with RYOT, a Los Angeles-based production company, on a series of VR stories set to roll out over the next five months.
The first film to emerge from the collaboration is Seeking Home: Life Inside the Calais Migrant Camp, a story about the largest migrant camp in Northern France.
Reported by the AP’s Dalton Bennett and produced by RYOT’s Tyson Sadler, Seeking Home: Life Inside the Calais Migrant Camp gives audiences a 360-degree view of the Calais camp, presenting migrants and refugees preparing for a dangerous journey aboard freight trains heading across the English Channel into the United Kingdom.
The film showcases the camp, known as "The Jungle," where migrants have created their own pseudo-society, complete with houses of worship, restaurants, and of course, a beauty salon. By using VR to immerse viewers in an up-close-and-personal experience of the Calais camp, the AP is hoping to offer a visceral sense of life in this near-lawless community, it said.
RYOT has been an innovator in producing VR journalism. Its films about the aftermath of this spring’s devastating earthquake in Nepal, narrated by Susan Sarandon, and of the war zone in Syria, drew international attention.
Other publications have also been turning to VR as an innovative tool for storytelling. Last month, the New York Times said it had partnered with Google on its own VR project, a film called The Displaced, about children uprooted by war. That project went live today.
The AP films will be available to anyone via RYOT’s VR mobile app, as well as through Oculus Share and Google Cardboard.