Have you ever thought about telling your story with a gaming engine or in virtual reality? Above is a screenshot from a virtual music festival I created in Unity to showcase how a brand or journalist can utilize the power of virtual recreation to represent their product. While this virtual reality demonstration is simplistic, it should challenge you to think outside the box and inspire you to try something new.
I remember one year in my past young life as a summer camp counselor, I was dealt with a group of teen girls who wanted to spend all their time hanging out and were hesitant to try anything new. I struck a deal with them that if they all tried every activity once, and still didn’t like it, we would not return to the activity. By the end of the two weeks, I had gotten all of them to try every single offering at camp, (it varied from fencing to target practice), and to be sure some got “X’d” off the list. But on the last day, I gave each of them an, “I Tried Something New” award. It was their greatest hurdle and achievement in their time with me.
Why do I tell you this teenage summer camp story? Because as I opened Unity (free to download), I felt like that resistant teenage girl. I assure you that if this wasn’t a homework assignment, I would not have ever thought I could learn this software or create an app or a game. But, I watched a few different free “how-to” videos via YouTube to find the one that “spoke” to my level of learning, and jumped in!
Telling a Story in Virtual Reality
My process began with creating a “terrain.” Then I looked for a source of inspiration. The palm trees were definitely it! As soon as I learned to put “wind” in the trees, I knew I wanted to recreate my vision of the Polo Fields in Coachella Valley.
I pulled in some photos I have taken there, including one I took of myself one year at Coachella Music Festival in an oversized mirror that made for taking the ultimate selfie. From there, I knew I wanted to create a stage, and show some artists playing.
Goldenvoice created a Coachella 2016 VR app with Unity the deployment of Google Cardboard. There is no way to view this without Google Cardboard that I found online.
Here is a simple example of how Unity can create a Virtual Reality app that can be viewed and played on multiple devices without the need to put your phone to your face or use Google Cardboard. This is a recorded screencast of walking through the app I created in Unity for demonstration purposes only.
If a journalist covering the event wants to retell the story their day, they could recreate it with a photo journal on the fields. This would give their viewers a feel for the weather, the layout, and offer an entirely different experience to “see” the story.
I encourage you to give Unity3D a try, and while this is a simple screenshot of the “app” I created for my class, I warn you that the possibilities are endless. There are lots of assets, some free many paid to play within Unity.
The sky is the limit for storytelling and brand journalists today. Whether on the road, in a studio, or working in a coffee shop with a laptop, your creativity is your only boundary. Journalism innovation is as open to communication experts as their minds are to learning new technology.