CNN to live-stream Democratic debate in virtual reality

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CNN Thinks Viewers Are Ready to Experience Presidential Debate Magic in Virtual Reality.

CNN is going up close and personal for the Democratic Debate on October 13: The news network will stream the debate live in virtual reality (VR), thanks to a cooperation with VR live streaming company NextVR. Have you ever thought to yourself in the middle of a presidential debate, “Wow, this would be so much better if I were watching it in 3D on a phone two inches from my eyes”?

Since there are few things enlightened white guys love posting about on Facebook more than Bernie Sanders and virtual reality, CNN decided to combine those two interests for its upcoming Democratic presidential debate. Owners of a Samsung Gear VR headset will be able to pick their own point of view during the debate, and for example focus on candidates while they are not speaking to find one of those unguarded moments that gets lost on the traditional telecast. The live stream follows a little experiment CNN and NextVR did during the latest Republican debate: NextVR captured the debate at the Ronald Reagan library earlier this month in 360-degree VR video, and then made it available for download through the NextVR app on GearVR.

In what CNN claims is the “first-ever live stream of a news event in virtual reality,” the network will use NextVR’s technology to bring a new debate experience to audiences. All you’ll need is a Samsung phone and $99 virtual reality headset to — in theory, at least — feel like you’re in the front row, able to direct your attention to the audience, moderators, and candidates at will. Viewing a clip from that event in VR, Jason Abbruzzese at Mashable found that the experience is immersive, but the video quality is still low enough that the candidates’ faces were “pretty indistinguishable.” Bonnie Kristian

From radio broadcasting to televising to today, virtual reality allows viewers the opportunity to experience these historic political events through their own lens. They range from the mundane (CNN’s and MSNBC’s audience feedback meters) to the cartoonishly bad (Fox News’ sedan-sized newsroom iPad things) to the logical (Facebook’s and NBC’s co-hosted debate in 2012).

Meanwhile, those without VR headsets will have to settle for watching the debate the old-fashioned way, in which the TV cameras bore everyone by focusing on the person who’s actually speaking. Outside of politics, one of the big selling points of VR is that it can offer viewers a simulated live experience that is much more immersive than a simple HD video stream. It’s little surprise CNN is attempting a VR live stream, however, since CNN is prone to doing ridiculous things and the new filming format is gradually making its way into all areas of video.

But while VR is certainly an advanced, promising technology that could (in time) radically alter the media landscape, what do viewers have to gain from super-close-ups of conservatively dressed old white people yelling at one another? In an interview, CNNMoney executive producer Jason Farkas said, “CNN has a long history of bringing viewers as close to the making of history as possible.” “VR has the ability to transport you to living history more than any other medium ever introduced,” Farkas added. “You get to watch candidates’ interactions and body language toward one another. And now that Facebook owns Oculus Rift, the social site plans to use the tech to sell movies, video games, and streaming content alongside VR experiences on the Oculus headset.

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