MediaWorks gives Kiwis a 360-degree online tour of its news digs

There’s been a fair amount of hype surrounding 360-degree video in recent months, and MediaWorks has now jumped on the 360 bandwagon, producing a 360-degree news studio video with Reel Factory to show off the Newshub studio’s new features. 

The video features Hilary Barry, Mike McRoberts and Ingrid Hipkiss more or less introducing the Newshub studio, pointing out where each show will be presented and discussing the benefits of the hub.

The clip can be viewed on a desktop PC with either Google Chrome or Firefox, or on mobile via the YouTube app.

Viewers need to use their finger, mouse, or tilt of their phone to navigate around the set as the three presenters walk us through the studio.

When moving around the set viewers can see everything from the three presenters in different parts of the hub, to the cameras, to the lights on the ceiling.

The digital space provides a whole lot of new possibilities for exciting, immersive storytelling, says MediaWorks head of digital news Jono Hutchison.

“And it’s supposedly the year of 360, or VR … It’s a good fit in that it’s a modern storytelling technique, it’s digitally focused but it’s video as well, and that’s something I feel like we do well.”

He says while this particular clip is promotional; it’s a format Newshub is looking at. “I think when you actually see it, it’s exciting thinking of the possibilities for news gathering. So we wanted to do something special for the launch. It does signal a lot of possibilities.”

TV and video has always been a medium that focuses on trying to take someone somewhere, he says. “I think when video was first introduced in a news context it added a whole new dimension to journalism and storytelling and this does the same thing, it’s just another step forward.”

He says 360-degree video has some exciting prospects for news in the future. “I’m not aware of the ability to live-stream 360 video at the moment, but I imagine it’s not too far off and that would provide a really fascinating view for unfolding situations.”

There’s already a range of price options out there for 360 rigs, he says. “I’m not sure what kind of quality you get out of the cheaper ones yet. Because we did this as a special one-off it was a particular rig for protecting higher quality videos.”

He says the New York Times is one media outlet, which is using 360-degree video and virtual reality really well.

“They created their own app which works for Google Cardboard and told their print subscribers to ‘put [the Google Cardboard]together and download our app’ and they had a huge response.”

He says it launched with a nine-minute feature about children who have been displaced by war and they follow three or four children as characters and show snapshots of their lives.

“I know it’s an early adopted use of it but they have already done such a good job of storytelling. You really felt like you were there and it’s just compelling, so I think they have really nailed it already.”

He says another good example is one ABC did through the Facebook 360 platform where it took a 360 view of the military parade of North Korea. “It’s one of those instances where everyone, most people, are fascinated by North Korea but not everyone can get in there. It seems like the perfect use of it, you really want to look around and see everything.”

360° View Inside North Korea

360° View Inside North Korea: Kim Jong Un watches as thousands celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Worker’s Party with cheers for their young leader. More to come from “Inside North Korea,” a VR collaboration with ABC News VR and JauntVR

Posted by ABC News on Thursday, 12 November 2015

He says the first time he tried it he thought this must be the way news would look in five years time. “I feel like there is a good chance it will become pretty normal. And with cardboard it will be pretty cheap. It does offer some really exciting opportunities for storytelling.”

360-video storytelling could also be good for advertisers.

Hutchison says when the New York Times launched its app it included ad content as well as ads within the app. “You can watch the ads as well and you want to watch them. I don’t know how long that will last before the ‘wow’ factor wears off.”

“A lot of the time where media companies launch new products they go ad free to build the audience, whereas the ads were so compelling they could get away with throwing them in.”

We’re looking forward to seeing what will come from 360-degree video and virtual reality in the future, as results from early users look very promising so far. 

And as a slight aside, here’s what The Spinoff discovered when having a poke around Newshub’s 360 video.

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