Nonfiction Immersive Visual Storytelling (360, VR, AR, Spatial Audio, Photogrammetry) 

| Open Educational Resource (OER)

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A Note for Students: 

When we tell a story, our goal is to immerse a viewer so far inside a world that everything else disappears. These days, technology has pushed us further and further into brave new worlds of more immersive storytelling. Starting with the device we carry in our pocket, we now have an HD video camera, still camera and computer at our fingertips. The computing power and sophistication of that smartphone keeps advancing, now augmented reality on our phone can add a new layer on top of the world–right where we’re standing. 

The reach of immersive technology is still small but growing rapidly. Large technology companies like Facebook , Google and Microsoft have made large investments into advancing the technology and aggressively extending the reach. Immersive Storytelling is not going away and it’s important that journalists and other non-fiction storytellers have a hand in shaping the technology.

Based on our experience as journalists and journalism instructors, we’ve focused on non-fiction storytelling here.  In these units, we’ve tried to highlight some of the most recent advances in immersive visual storytelling to give you a  basic introduction, some background and examples, readings, exercises and tools to explore them together and on your own. So jump in, get ready to create, and have fun.

A Note for Instructors:

This open educational resource is meant to be a guide and reference for teaching immersive nonfiction storytelling. We’re including details on assignments that could be used over the course of a semester as well as lesson outlines and reading and viewing suggestions for key topic units. 

These units could be used together to make up an immersive course, or you could select some of the individual units to include in other nonfiction storytelling courses (eg video or interactive courses). At our school we have three hour classes, but these lessons can be adjusted and subdivided to fit you class lengths and needs. Additional time and class sessions may be needed for workshopping student projects.

We’ve broken down our description for each class into the following components:

Each class=

Intro (short 3-5 sentences)

Learning outcomes 3 max

Lesson (video, interview or slideshow)

In-class Exercise/Activity for small groups


Discussion Topics

Out-of Class Assignment or Quiz ?? 

Resources> links to other things

At the end of each lesson you can  poll students with a form/poll called  3,2,1 = 3 takeaways, 2 questions, one thing they enjoyed.

Here’s a google form for 3,2,1. Please copy it and make it your own…

Our units (listed on the table of contents below) are divided between an in-depth focus on 360-video capture, editing, distribution and storytelling principles and focus units about other tools and techniques on the immersive spectrum: immersive and spatial audio; augmented reality; photogrammetry; volumetric video; and social VR. Although 360 photo and video are in some ways the most simple immersive storytelling tool, we think it’s still the best place to go in depth because the tools are more robust, accessible and easy to use. Also, the key paradigms of immersive storytelling–first-person storytelling and spatial narrative–can be understood by planning and working with 360.

We’ve found that successfully teaching students about immersive storytelling involves a lot of hands-on work (even if you are teaching remotely and it’s virtual hands-on work). With new mediums and new tools, students (no matter what age) often don’t have the lightbulb moment until they’ve watched a story in that format from start to finish. Emerging tech is new and unfamiliar by nature. We encourage instructors to walk students step-by-step through how to find, load, and interact with the different types of stories featured in this class. This can be part of the fun too. It’s rewarding to see your students try a new story for the first time and discuss it with them. 

Also, remember that no one is an expert here and we’ve created these as brief introductory journeys into these topics.  The tools and techniques for these stories are changing and updating every day. It’s important to empower your students to test, discuss, criticize and make use of these new immersive tools and stories. One of the key abilities students should develop by engaging with this material is a comfort with experimenting and telling stories with new tools. 

Watching and making time for in depth analysis of immersive stories is very valuable for your students. They can learn from what other storytellers have done well and not-so-well.