ABC has just launched ABC News VR, which is exactly what it sounds like. The company released its first live-action VR experience today in the form of a 360-degree tour of the war-torn Syrian capital of Damascus. The video is a collaboration with the virtual reality company Jaunt VR.
In the clip, ABC News correspondent Alexander Marquardt walks through Damascus and describes how city workers are keeping historical artifacts safe from conflict zones during the civil war. To create the video, ABC used a device with 16 different cameras mounted on it, Variety reports. Images were then "stitched together" to create the illusion of a 360-degree view. Jaunt VR created Jaunt Studios earlier this year, a branch dedicated solely to producing and developing live-action virtual reality experiences, and it seems like ABC News is one of its first clients. ABC says it plans to use the technology for more around-the-world reporting in places like Cuba, and for big events like Pope Francis's upcoming trip to the US.
The first of many videos
ABC is not the first news organization to use virtual reality in an attempt to more fully capture the destruction in Syria — Syria's Smart News Agency published a similar 360-degree, 4K video earlier this week. The Discovery Channel was one of the first networks to wade into the VR realm this year. Discovery VR also offers 360-degree videos that can be viewed on a web browser, or on iOS or Android. It seems inevitable that as virtual reality gains a foothold in television programming, the number of channel-specific VR projects will only continue to grow.
Viewers can watch the video on a browser, or by downloading Jaunt VR's app for iOS or Android and using Google Cardboard or another VR headset.
Update, September 16th, 10:45 AM ET: Updated to reflect ABC News has not partnered with Jaunt VR, but that the video was created through collaboration between ABC News and Jaunt VR.