It’s one thing to read it in the news, but to take a somber drive through the devastation is surreal.
Last month, Steve Cooper shot a short 360 documentary in Paradise, CA. In the Sierra Nevada foothills, the town was ravaged by the recent wildfires. Even though it happened a month ago, residents are only being allowed to return now.
I think immersive 360 video is a wonderful asset to photojournalism. It’s pretty breathtaking to take a mournful drive through scorched streets and see hardworking rescue workers. I feel like this format would be beneficial to other worldwide disasters. BBC has done it before, and it’s possibly the best way to get a clear picture of a scene. It’s much harder to frame or stage scenarios, and so less open to debate and biased attitudes.
The camera used was an Insta360 Pro, on a Moza Guru360. As you can see in this Instagram post from Go.Dingo, the VR dolly company that Cooper is part of, the gimbal is a little awkward to set up. You need to counterbalance the camera with weights. I wonder if the newer version of this camera wouldn’t need a stabilizer, which could make it easier for journalists to get shots without worrying about technical details. Between this and smaller, stabilized 360 cameras, I think we'll be seeing more VR video in the news.