Viceland and Samsung are bringing viewers to the center of the Syrian war with a virtual reality documentary that shows what it's like to rescue people from a bombing.
It's no secret that virtual reality and 360 video have been hailed by many over the past year as mediums with an immense power to help viewers empathize with people and places outside of their comfort zone. One And now the two companies want to do the same by bringing viewers into the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The 360-degree trailer is for the upcoming documentary "The White Helmets," a VR film about a group of Syrians who voluntarily rush to locations where people and buildings have just been bombed in the hopes of saving anyone who might have been inside or nearby. The film—which is powered by Oculus—will debut on Samsung VR on Dec. 2.
The partnership is part of an ongoing collaboration by Vice Media and Samsung to further integrate 360-degree video into journalism projects around the world. (Earlier this year, Samsung debuted its Gear 360 camera, a consumer-grade 360-degree video camera smaller than the size of a baseball.)
"As virtual reality becomes more prevalent in journalism, we looked into how the technology is changing the way we experience the news," Viceland creative director Trent Rohner said in a statement. "What is the new role of the reporter when the viewer can experience the event for themselves? Can journalism be more objective when there is no frame and they can see everything?"
Along with "The White Helmets," Samsung and Viceland are also debuting a second documentary called "Inside the Story," which shows how VR and 360 video is being used in newsrooms to bring users to the story. The Associated Press and The New York Times have both heavily invested in VR journalism during the past year.
"Inside the Story" is scheduled to air on Viceland.com on Dec. 2 and then on Viceland was a special program on Dec. 12.
"Samsung has always been a champion of VR and 360-degree technology to evolve storytelling," Marc Mathieu, Samsung Electronics America's CMO, said in a statement. "With 'The White Helmets,' which was shot with Samsung Gear 360, the viewer is an active participant in the experience as opposed to a passive observer, and this newest piece of content gives the viewer a new perspective on how technology can enhance journalism."