Media company and virtual reality studio, RYOT has announced that it has begun a new joint initiative with global news agency, The Associated Press, to produce a series of stories in virtual reality, co-created and distributed across both networks over the next five months. The collaboration launches with today’s release of “Seeking Home: Life Inside the Calais Migrant Camp,” the first VR story to come out of the new venture, which transports viewers to the front line of the largest migrant and refugee camp in northern France. RYOT is one of the leading creators of virtual reality content, having produced and distributed more than 20 immersive VR experiences, including the first virtual reality film from a war zone in Syria and a gripping profile of the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.
The new AP/RYOT collaboration forges a relationship between the most trusted news agency in the world and the most prolific docu-style VR studio, paving the way for the future of virtual reality in journalism.
“We are very excited about this collaboration,” said Bryn Mooser, Co-Founder of RYOT News. “The Associated Press has been our preferred news provider since our launch three years ago, and now, together with VR, we have the opportunity to reimagine the way we interact with the news and blaze new trails together in immersive journalism.”
“We see the future of news as immersive and action-oriented. Philosophically and technologically, virtual reality is the best tool we’ve found for helping people really understand and connect with the headlines they read every day,” added Molly Swenson, RYOT’s COO and an executive producer of the film.
Led by AP video journalist Dalton Bennett and RYOT director Tyson Sadler, “Seeking Home” is a 360-degree, virtual reality experience that places viewers in one of the largest migrant camps in Western Europe. The film takes the audience through the Calais camp in northern France, where they meet migrants and refugees as they prepare for the final leg of their dangerous journey: to climb aboard a moving freight train bound for England across the English Channel to start a new life in the UK.
Migrants and refugees have turned the rugged landscape into a makeshift town with churches, mosques, restaurants, and even a beauty salon. With winter approaching, local authorities struggle to cope with the influx as the camp grows more permanent with each day. Through the use of such experiential technology, the film brings audiences into the heart of the camp for a closeup view of life inside the camp.
“Virtual reality is an intimate platform that allows the audience to experience the journalist’s unique perspective of the story. AP is excited to tell stories via this new platform,” said Paul Cheung, AP’s Director of Interactive and Digital News Production.
“The VR space has great potential for news innovation, and we’re eager to explore that space with RYOT,” said Francesco Marconi, AP’s manager of strategy.
The initiative combines efforts of both outlets, enabling them to build up capabilities and distribution as they work to introduce virtual reality to a larger audience. This immersive experience will be available for free through the RYOT VR mobile app, the first app to bring users both the news and films in virtual reality, with access to the studio’s growing library of 360 videos. Additionally, it will be distributed via Oculus Share and Google Cardboard.