Emerging tools like 360° video, virtual reality (VR) and drones are giving new meaning to “bearing witness.” These new forms of immersive storytelling can bring people to places they might never see in ways they haven’t expected. They allow people to bear witness to the world in new ways.

Journalists and documentary filmmakers are using these tools to capture public attention and evoke emotional connection to the issues they report on. But how do we bring VR, 360 video and drones into our advocacy campaigns? Can they help us engage the public more deeply in our causes using immersive storytelling?

Our guest speakers, Molly Swenson, COO of RYOT News, and Will Potter, award-winning journalist,  dive into these questions and more.

Key Learning: Integrating Immersive Storytelling into Campaigns

360° video, VR or drones: these new tools for immersive storytelling bring new opportunities to engage our supporters more deeply and support our organization’s work.

  • Engagement: 360° video/VR tied to a call-to-action has seen higher than normal conversion rates. For example, RYOT partners with non-profits to produce immersive video experiences (i.e. 360° video that showed on-the-ground of the post Nepal earthquake) along with a call-to-action for donations. Read more about the Syrian example here.
  • Fundraising: A fundraising campaign by Amnesty International designed “Virtual Reality street canvassing” whereby people on the streets of Britain were transported into a Syrian war zone, using 360° video and VR headsets. They found a 16% increase in donations. Read more here.
  • Investigation: Drones used by journalists help to expose issues with aerial documentation and in some cases, circumnavigate laws where  on the ground reporting is banned (i.e. the Ag-Gag laws in the United States that bans whistle-blowing of factory farming practices). Read more here.
Suggested Tools/Equipment*
These are some of the immersive storytelling tools and tech suggested by Molly and Will:
  • 360 Filming Equipment: 360° Hero is a popular mounting rig that uses 6-14 GoPro Cameras (more for 3D). Separate audio equipment is needed if recording environmental sounds and you will need stitching softwareto combine all footage into 360° spherical footage.
  • Virtual Reality Headsets range in complexity and price from Oculus Rift  ($800 USD) to Google Cardboard($20-30 USD). Some NGO’s have made their own branded VR head-sets using Google Cardboard or another product.
  • Drones can also range in price and equipment from commercial drones like Phantom Quadcopters ($600 USD and up) to home-made DIY drones ($200 USD and up for parts)

* This is not a comprehensive list nor are external resources endorsed by Greenpeace.

Live Q&A with #MobLabLive

A snapshot from Twitter of the conversation and questions on this MobLab Live conversation: