Introducing media students to VR.

A few weeks ago, Paul Bradshaw who is the course leader for the MA in multimedia and mobile journalism, invited me to speak to second year media students during their production day at Birmingham City University. When asked to speak to the students about 360-degree content and VR, I jumped at the chance.

I believe this is a disruptive technology that will have an impact across all industries and not just the media. The opportunity to discuss this with other students always leads to some interesting and fascinating discussions. By showing how to create the content quite easily without any programming knowledge and show its potential is always a fun experience for those involved. 


#bcujournos hearing about #VR from @mike_dantezero

A post shared by Paul Bradshaw (@paulbradshawuk) on

360-degree and VR content is already in great demand already in the media industry and it’s set to get even bigger in the coming years. The biggest problems faced at the moment are stripping away the complexities of making the content for those already in industry and explaining the benefits of working with the formats.

For me, it is important that companies, educational institutions and more, work to get involved at all levels including grass roots to tackle impending issues. This includes accessibility, universal workflows, ethics, engagement, skills gaps and tackling complexities of the format.  

By taking away the complexities and making the platforms more accessible it allows media workers to really engage, experiment and develop their own creative story telling narratives. It is important to consider this as the demand for the content is growing but the supply chain is extremely slow due to expensive high end industry equipment coupled with long and complicated working practices.

This is contributing to the shortage of content and skilled people working in this area of media content creation. As a result it can have a negative impact on grass roots interests within the media industry.

It is getting better though as more and more mainstream organisations are taking an interest in the formats and platforms and actively working with those outside of their organisations to develop content further.

Over the course of the session, it was great to show some really simple ways to create the content but also to engage in conversations about why media students should consider using 360-degree content and VR.  It will hopefully become a very useful tool in their arsenal of media content creation and story telling going forward.

The VR and 360-degree content industry is continuing to rapidly grow with the likes of Vimeo, CNN, The New York Times, Frontline, The Guardian and more becoming regular publishes of VR compatible content.

This presents a great opportunity for students to be at the forefront of cutting edge changes within the media. For now, sessions like this are a small step to encouraging the next generation through removing complicated processes and allowing them to experiment as much as possible. Especially now online publishing platforms such as WordPress support the content being showcased in blogs and websites

Below you can find some highlights and snippets that Paul Bradshaw kindly captured throughout the day.

In the mean time, if you are a media student who is interested in 360-degree technology or VR, then please do get in contact.

I will be providing some guides in the coming months to help those interested get started with creating content in this area of the media.  

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