ABC News is starting to experiment with immersive journalism and has created a 360-degree virtual reality video companion piece, designed to be watched on a smartphone with a Google Cardboard-type headset.
The piece coincides with a report about Syria on Nightline and is being led by Dan Silver, among others. Silver himself was initially not interested in VR, but once he was approached about producing a VR video, he says he "got" the potential of it.
"At first, I thought, 'Okay, that's kind of cool for experiences, but I don't get how you can tell a story with this,'" said Silver in an interview with Re/Code. "It's a whole new way of piecing things together, like going from editing on a flatbed to using Final Cut Pro for the first time."
The piece itself is told by reporter Alexander Marquardt, who leads viewers on an in-depth journey through Damascus, Syria. It shows the fact that, in some parts of the war-torn region, life simply continues on, while in other areas, Syrians are scrambling to keep historical buildings and artifacts from being destroyed.
To create the piece, ABC collaborated with Jaunt VR, which is a California-based studio that is known for created 360-degree video. Jaunt is the company that put together the raw video files, however, ABC did the narrative video editing, as it would do in any other feature story.
The feature is available on both iOS and Android and is only the first of many virtual reality pieces that ABC hopes to roll out, which can be found at ABCNews.com/VR.