360 Video/VR News

VR Movies

☀☀ VR Movies didn’t make the top 10 list on The Guardian, and I can see why. I couldn’t shift my head and have the video follow. This is crucial for detail-oriented journalists. Most of the videos I tested, like “Hang Glide Over Yosemite National Park in 360 Degrees” and “GoPro VR: Danny MacAskill – Cascadia in Virtual Reality,” had this problem. Objects (such as the edge of a hang glider) showed up on each side of the video. — Sarah Hunt


☀☀☀☀ VeeR VR gives VR enthusiasts the opportunity to showcase their videos across multiple platforms. VeeR VR is free (at the Apple or Google Play stores). My favorite video from the app shows a baby’s reaction to being at the beach for the first time. VeeR VR encourages its users to interact with one another by using a social-networking type of approach which allows users the opportunity to advance their VR skills by exchanging ideas and opinions. This app could also be used to scout for upcoming VR talent and story ideas. — Dillion Eddie

Arte360 VR

☀☀☀ Arte360 explores the future of entertainment with movies in virtual reality. The app, available for both iOS and Android, currently offers 25 short documentaries and movies; ranging in topics from antarctic penguins to a dystopian thriller. They are viewable in both 360 video and VR formats (of course you’ll need VR goggles to view the latter). Arte360 is European based and a lot of their older videos are not in English, so English-only speakers will have fewer selections. And unless a journalist produces a short package in Europe, this app is likely not useful for anything other than entertainment. — Cat Supawit

VR on YouTube

☀☀☀☀☀ Hundreds of 360 and virtual reality videos are accessible by searching #360video on the YouTube app, available on Android and iPhone. After selecting a video, simply tap the icon that looks like a pair of VR goggles and insert the phone into the headset. You can find professional videos on the verified Virtual Reality channel, and plenty of amateur efforts are just a search away. A downside: you have to remove your phone between each video unless you pre-make a playlist. Journalists can use the app to upload their own VR videos or gather ideas from other news organizations. — Leah Soto

Amaze VR

☀☀☀☀ Amaze VR is a social media virtual reality app that works through YouTube to allow users to follow the lives of various vloggers and adventurers. Content includes games, such as people playing H.O.R.S.E. The app uses a feed design similar to Twitter. Because the app feeds off YouTube,  journalists who post there may reach a large audience. When I use VR, I want to be transported to the location, and Amaze makes it so that anyone can upload an adventure. — Connor Van Siclen        


☀☀☀ LIFE VR, for both iPhone and Android, provides virtual reality experiences curated from major magazines under the TIME brand. One reviewer called Buzz Aldrin’s  Mars mission experience “mind-blowing.” The interesting, high-quality content varies greatly, from the newsy People and Sports Illustrated to the lifestyle-driven Real Simple, Essence, Southern Living and InStyle. Content is updated monthly. Check out a scene from Fifty Shades Darker or experience the making of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. A major drawback: downloading each individual interactive experience in addition to the app consumes both storage and time. Nisa Ayral


 ☀☀☀ Jovrnalism is a free virtual reality app that allows you to experience events from all over the world in a 360 view. The videos usually last no longer than 4 minutes. Just click on the video and turn your phone horizontally. Move the phone around for different views. The app does not require virtual reality googles. Check out the Women’s March on Washington and the Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. I was impressed with the quality of the video and how easy it was to navigate the app itself. Journalists could review the videos to enhance their own 360 videos.  — Julia Bashaw


☀☀☀☀ A rapper named Childish Gambino released an app over the summer named PHAROS Earth, which eventually became the platform to buy tickets to an immersive camping trip centered around a one-time concert in Joshua Tree. Now, the Pharos app gives downloaders a chance to view a 360 performance of a song from the show in VR goggles from the front of the crowd. All cell phones were confiscated at the entrance, so this is a big deal for his fans, allowing the chance to see crowd reactions and projected animations. While the image quality isn’t anything special, for true fans, the immersive experience won’t disappoint. — Kelsey Hess

VRtually There

☀☀ VRtually There, the virtual reality program launched in October 2017 by the USA TODAY Network, is priding itself on being the first weekly VR program. While that may be the goal, currently the program is 360 video that doesn’t work in VR goggles. As the video plays, there is an indistinguishable difference between editorial content and the advertisements, which is a distinction that will likely be made as the 360 video continues to evolve. In the meantime, the technical issues are too problematic and USA TODAY Network has work to do if they are truly trying to break the ice into VR television. — Kelsey Hess

Google Spotlight Stories

☀☀☀ Google Spotlight Stories offers a handful of animated stories in 360° technology. Most stories allow the user to pick whether or not they will be using VR goggles. The short videos can be saved to a “My Stories” tab for offline viewing. The endearing shorts cover a variety of subjects, many that tug at the heart strings (such as a young girl’s determination to wear her new sunglasses on a cloudy day). This app seems extremely adaptable for journalists looking for a new storytelling medium. It’s worth checking out. — Hailey Koebrick