Review of “The Fight for Falluja” 360 VR Video, The New York Times

When reading different news stories, I often find myself bored, especially when I am reading the same story, from different sources, over and over again. I’ve come to realize that it is not simply the repetition that bores me, but also the method. If I am “experiencing” the same news again, it isn’t that fun when I am reading it once more. However, what about watching it?

Thanks to 360 VR (Virtual Reality) technology, there is a new method to experiencing news stories. Rather than simply show a video, and talk over it, news reporters can now, with new technology, show the audience what it is like to be in the places they are reporting. It does this by allowing the viewer to click on the video, and drag around their mouse to get a 360 view of the picture.

For “The Fight For Falluja”, reported by New York Times photographer Ben C. Solomon, this has an incredible affect on the story. Reporting on Iraqi forces’ attempts to take back the city of Falluja from ISIS,  Solomon uses the technology to his full advantage. The video is very easy to use, and the reporting done in it is excellent.

One of the things I really liked about it was the ability to really see what was going on. Whenever Solomon points out something, like how here is a battle taking place, the viewer is able to see it from all angles. Rather than wonder what the landscape is, or what people are doing all around him, the VR let’s the audience see those things for themselves.

One specific example I like is when Solomon is talking about the cells where ISIS would keep prisoners. When the cell doors are opened, the viewer can then experience what it would be like to be there. This is because, unlike a normal video where you might only get one perspective, the technology allows you to see just how small the “prison” really is. Thus, the technology enhances the detail of the story, as well as the experience.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend the video, which I will link below. It is a sad watch, but the way in which it was shot was very well done. Also, I do have to commend Ben C. Solomon on a job well done, and The New York Times for using this technology so well!

Here is the video:





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