How I started to know VR and where I will go?

Life is mixed with unexpected, however, it was like a destiny somehow when you look back. My life has been changed from a moment when I saw a small poster on the first day I came to Missouri School of Journalism.

IMG_5484My curiosity was sparked when I first take a glimpse at it. Virtual Reality? My inner voice told me that this is what you should have a try! Actually, it was not my first time to see the term Virtual Reality on the poster, I started to hear this emerging technology term when I was back in my university back in China. Back then, each of my classmates was required to introduce a new technology relating to media development, luckily, the word I got was Virtual Reality. This opportunity gave me a chance to dabble in this field.

After overcoming a series of obstacles, I finally enrolled in the VR journalism class, which was taught by Professor Clyde Bentley. I really appreciate him for all he has done to us and I really respect him. I would not be able to get into this field without his help.

From the VR class, I had learned not only theoretical concepts but also practical skills. But more importantly, I started to constantly think about the application of Virtual Reality in my life,


I have to admit that I am not a person with a great physical condition, which means that I have been being annoyed by a kind of chronical disease. It is not a big deal, but still very annoying.


Additionally, I have always been interested in biology, to be more specific, I am obsessed with the mechanism of the human body.


However, as a journalism student, I have few chances to learn knowledge related to biology even though I took two elective biology courses as part of my education plan. During the classes, I found it hard to fully understand some basic concepts and the process of some reactions, such as photosynthesis. They are too abstract.

photosy



And one day, an idea suddenly came up to my mind. What if VR can be applied to biology education? Will it bring huge revolution to this industry? That is where I want to go.

Advertisements

My online portfolio 360 teaser video

Who I am?

The link above leads you to my interesting online portfolio 360 teaser video. It is my first 360 video which myself is in it. This short 1:04 long 360 video helps me to overcome a huge obstacle which is speaking in front of the camera.

To make this video, first, I wrote a brief script in order to instruct me.

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 11.47.49 PM

I found it very useful, especially when I forgot what I should say and what I should do next. Script and storyboard are two of the most important things that we need to prepare ahead before whatever story we are going to tell.

Additionally, to make this video, I stayed in the future lab so late that nobody was there. However, I still felt very embarrassed when I was recording this 360 video. I really don’t know why I had a feeling like this since I can by no means be defined as a shy person.

However, at the end, I finished my video with a sense of achievement and I really glad that I did it. I hope I can gradually overcome this obstacle and finally become a journalist who can openly speak in front the camera without fearing.

My reflections

There is an old Chinese saying, “One minute of performance on stage, ten years of practice off stage”.

I don’t understand the true meaning of this proverb until recently.

As I growing older and getting in touch with different people and things, I find it increasingly harder to get things done up to my expectation.

There are too many elements I have to think beforehand and there are also too many unexpected things along the way to success.

Success

However, I do not think the world is becoming harder as I grow older. The world is what it is. The only reason why I get a feeling like this is because I am becoming smarter and getting closer to the fact of the life.

I should feel happy about it.

aA13Vqp_700b_v2

After I realize this cruel fact, I push myself to work harder to reach my goal. However, sometimes, the result will turn out to be just the opposite of my wish. Work hard, meanwhile, I also need to work wisely.

How to work smart is what I am thinking right now. Below is a table that I summarize from an article I read.Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 10.11.23 PM

To better understand this Mindnode table, read this article.

How To Learn In 2 Days What Normally Takes 6 Months

360 Time-lapse: A beautiful beach in Cancun, Mexico

Cancun Beach Timelapse in 360

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 2.08.27 PM.png

A week ago, I went to Cancun, Mexico for my spring break. It was a fantastic journey and I really enjoyed myself there. I set up two goals for myself before I went to Cancun. First, I needed to relax both my body and soul. Meanwhile, I wanted to shoot as many 360 footages as I could and create an interesting 360 video story about my journey after coming back to school.

Now, I have already gone through the first busy week at school after spring break, so I begin to focus on my 360 project since yesterday. The first step that I did is to make a table in order to get a brief overview of what I got in Cancun, thus, I can start to plan for my story.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 2.01.43 PM.png

However, since it is my first long 360 video, I don know how this story will end up with. I want to avoid making a loose story without drama. Meanwhile, I also add more fun into it.

I am really excited to begin my 360 video editing journey, I will keep myself update and hopefully come up with a satisfying result at the end!

 

Tutorials: how to make a VR video room

Sometimes we need a VR video room, which term is created by myself, to illustrate some background information for the audience to understand the basic setting of our stories. In my case, I use it to tell the audience how we got to Xel-Ha park from Cancun.

Youtube link: VR video room

1. PR_Create a new project
012. PR_Create a new sequence02
3. PR_Leave sequence presets unchanged and goes to sequence settings

4. PR_Import a video03

5. PR_Change video size and position

6. PR_export video_setting as usual

7. AE_Create a new project

8. AE_Import White Wall Image (1920*960)

9. AE_Mettle Extractor

04

10. AE_Go to output section and double click the conversion button, go to combined section05

11. AE_Use PR video to replace all the cubes

13. AE_Import video and use it to cover the front cube, spread it to all other 5 cubes06
14. AE_Go to output section and check everything

15. AE_Export to Render Queue CC_Set as VR video

Creation needs energy and attitude

Create something interesting or meaningful is harder than what we thought, as less for me. I need energy and attitude to create. Energy is the first, it incents you to act. It is the motor of life. So, in a sense, keep working out and improve physical condition is of great significance. For a creator, running is essential for our daily lives. Watch the video lists below: My addition.

My addition

What is Maximalist Running LPF

Once you can keep a good daily physical condition, you have to reach for next level, which is the attitude. It is more about mental health. When you have a motor to drive you forward, you will need a steering wheel to control your direction. You have to keep yourself on the right track and focus on what you are most willing to and avoid being distracted by irrelevant stuff. In my opinions, one way of doing it is to be brave and clarify your goal beforehand. Being brave means you have to keep challenging your goal which related to creation. Sometimes it is hard to keep creating and focusing because other easier but meaningless goals will attract you to other wrong directions. You need the courage to overcome them and the sense of achievement will keep you going.

As for me, 360 video is my biggest goal. I know it is hard but I will try my best to stick myself to it. Here is a 360 time-lapse video that I shot last week at the Future Lab in Missouri School of Journalism.

360 time-lapse J-School students study recklessly on March 21, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 1.08.46 PM.png

 

Casey Neistat gives me a spark for 360 video

I have been looking for a spark that inspires me to make another 360 video recently. However, I did not find it until I watch a inspiring 360 video, published in July 2016,  made by Casey Neistat.

Here is the video: My VidCon Experience in 360

The video is not fancy or by no mean can be called amazing. But there is a little trick that I think worth learning which can be used to add more entertaining elements into 360 video.

I call it “teleport”

teleport

When we are planning to do a introductory 360 video, “teleport” is a great trick that we can use to maintain audience’s curiosity and attention. It can not only quicken the pace of 360 video, but only make it much more fun to watch.

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 2.30.05 PM

#1

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 2.30.36 PM

#2

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 2.30.57 PM

#3

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 2.31.22 PM

#4

 

If you have watched the first a few minutes of Casey’s video, you can find him move suddenly from his coach to his bed, then moves suddenly from his bed to window, finally moves from window to kitchen.

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 2.42.02 PM

He intentionally moves from a point to its opposite side which leads audience to move their view dramatically, thus, these movements show the characteristic of 360 videos.

I will apply this technic to my next 360 video and I am looking forward to its outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be a VR storyteller?

Virtual Reality videos or so called 360 videos are very different with 2D videos which we usually watch in many ways. As a VR hobbyist, in my perspective, one of the most critical problems existing right now is lacking good content. As a beginner, I am still looking for a good model to tell stories in 360 format or VR format. Discovering how to become a good VR storyteller is just like a journey searching for precious treasure. Instead of thinking about how valuable the treasure is. More practically, I should pay more effort on improving and perfecting a treasure map which can lead me to the terminal.

how-to-pose@2x

So I summary some tips which may be useful for VR or 360 video storytellers to follow.

  1. Watch everything you can first and foremost
    =National Geographic’s 360 selection on Facebook
    =Within app – Notes on Blindness
    =Everything from RYOT
    =The Wall Street Journal
    =NYT VR
    =UNVR app
  2. Watch these pieces in a Google Cardboard, then watch them again in 360 mode on desktop and mobile.
    =Seeing how differently a film can work depending on how it’s consumed will help you refine your ideas.
  3. Think critically
    =What pieces did you like?
    =What moments from each film stick with you?
    =What did you totally miss when viewing each piece for the first time? =Did you want to watch it again?
    =And why do you think that is?

Finally, I attach a VR storyboard at the end.  VR_Storyboard_Final

I don’t know how to make a good VR or 360 videos right now, but I believe if I can find a right path, I will finally become a fantastic VR storyteller.

I love drone and VR

Story is the king, always! How to utilize emerging technologies such as drone and Virtual Reality to create compelling stories is what I want to master the most recently. These series of weekly blogs will base on two topics, drone and Virtual Reality.

An announcement of new drone

For me, the biggest news happened recently was the announcement of M200 series drones released by DJI in World Mobile Congress. The M200 series are the most advanced drone series in DJI families. Unlike other drones, M200 series are designed specifically for commercial operators who need aerial inspection and data collection, etc.

img_0064

Watch the introduction video DJI – Introducing the Matrice 200 Series

Compared to 2D videos, 360 video allows the audience to look around, thus to gain an immersive understanding of what happened in the sense. It is a very cool idea and I think with the development of new technologies, it will become an alternative option for people to gain stories.

img_4028

So I came up with an idea a week ago that what will happen if I combine drone with 360 video? A unique experience of flying in the sky.

Watch my drone 360 video and subscribe my YouTube channel for more upcoming interesting videos Fly in the sky

Review

As what I mentioned at the beginning of the article, story is the king! If I can only know how to operate the drone and 360 camera, I can become a technician rather than a visual storyteller. In addition to learning how to operate the machine, I should also learn the logic of visual storytelling. That is what I am eager to do in future

 

This is why becoming a journalist is great!

Becoming a journalist means that you have to master lots of professional skills, such as writing, taking photos and making videos, etc. However, besides these, learning how to get along with your sources is also of great significance.

As a future journalist, I always want to make my sources happy when they are being interviewed by me. On one hand, it is because I always feel embarrassed if I give my sources a feeling that I am doing all the stuff only for the sack of myself. On the other hand, I can get a better and deeper story if my sources are happy.

So, I always try to learn something from my sources or get a period of mutual experience with them before my interview. So it is the same for this time.

For my first Camp Convergence Assignment, I was required to make a story about a maker with passion. And the first idea that came up in my mind is an old lady, Carol Leigh, who do wonderful collection of natural dyes and natural dyed yarns as well as some high quality spinning and weaving supplies. We met before when I was doing another project last semester. I was deeply impressed by her works and studios.

However, I called her for several times and her daughter told me that she is out of town and will not be back until next week. But the good news is that her daughter also does the same work and she is willing to share her family’s story with me. So I drove to her studio to get a brief further information of her studio on Saturday afternoon.

31485038647-pic

We had a great conversation and I found it is even better to make a story about her daughter because it can show how traditional technic is taught from generation to generation.

In addition to talking, I participated in her free knit weave crochet class that afternoon and learned how to make a hat by myself. It was very complicated for me to start at first but it was vert interesting.

21485038646_-pic

After an hour class, I finished the first part of knitting and I felt great! I made another appointment with her on Sunday to start my project. It was a great experience for me and I believe it is also a good one for her.

As journalists, we are required to meet with people of different experiences and backgrounds. As a result, this job gives us opportunities to fill our lives with their colorful and unique experiences. So that is why becoming a journalist is great!