All posts in Brookline

Immersive Storytellers Craft Unique Experiences at the Intersection of Media, Health, Medicine and Scientific Discovery in Boston

The Boston Globe's STAT team, Brookline Interactive Group, and the Public VR Lab teamed up on three 360 films for Hubweek 2017.

[article originally posted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/immersive-storytellers-craft-unique-experiences-media-kathy-bisbee]

In 2016, Jeff Delviscio, Director, Multimedia and Creative at the Boston Globe’s STAT news team, bumped into the executive director, Kathy Bisbee, of Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), where she was demoing VR to throngs of science journalists and media makers. He wanted to explore how his cutting-edge news team, STAT, focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine and scientific discovery, could tell compelling stories about medicine and science using 360 video or VR. Kathy had hoped to share BIG’s experience training and creating VR content with other media organizations.

Kathy had co-founded the Public VR Lab as part of her work at Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) an innovative community media center, and was creating AR, VR and 360 content with her team. The Lab had started planting the seeds for what would become “Community VR,” a local and national project and movement that would train journalists, filmmakers, creators, and storycoders to create VR in the public interest, based out of Brookline, MA and trained and collaborated with libraries, arts organizations and journalists. The Lab now has an affiliate program, and offers VR toolkits, equipment and a training program to VR creators, journalists, filmmakers, educators, and municipalities.

Together STAT, BIG and the Public VR Lab collaborated to produce three unique experiences in locations around Boston that resulted in three 360 films introducing Boston residents and viewers worldwide to what it might feel like to work in a high security lab on the Ebola virus in Boston’s NEIDL (National Emerging Infectious Diseases lab); or to better understand the experience of a Tufts Dental School student, and sense intense teamwork of the effective Boston Children’s Hospital’s infant trauma unit. All films were created in 360 video that can be watched online, in a VR headset, or even on your phone, and screened at Boston’s Hubweek in October 2017.

Read more and check out these unique experiences from the team at STAT, Brookline Interactive Group, and the Public VR Lab, written and documented below and online by Hyacinth Empinado, STAT News staffer.

[Team photo at Hubweek: STAT Director, Jeff Delviscio; BIG Lead Creative Designer, Nir Darom; STAT News staffer/editor, Hyacinth Empinado; BIG VR Coordinator, Josh Widdicombe]

What does it look like inside a level-4 biosafety lab? And what does it feel like to be inside an operating room, performing a delicate procedure on a critically ill child?

In the world of science and medicine, places like this are often reserved exclusively for highly trained specialists.

But immersive 360-degree videos can gives us all a better sense for what it’s like to see the world through these specialists’ eyes. In the videos below, originally produced for HUBweek in partnership with Brookline Interactive Group and the Public VR Lab, you can explore these spaces on your own screen. To look around, click on the videos with your mouse and move it in any direction.

Raising Ebola

Research on dangerous pathogens like Ebola takes place inside highly secure biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs. Elke Mühlberger, a researcher at the National Emerging Diseases Laboratory at Boston University, takes you as close to Ebola as you’ll ever get and talks about why she thinks of the deadly virus as her pet.

Open Wide

On any given day, rows of fake heads are on the receiving end of whirring drills at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Mikenah Vega, a fourth-year student, shows us how she preps her head (which she calls “my boyfriend Miguel”) for a day at the simulation clinic, where students learn all about our teeth. 

On any given day, rows of fake heads are on the receiving end of whirring drills at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where students learn about teeth.

Code Blue

Watch a team of physicians, nurses, and surgeons simulate a high-risk procedure, called ECMO, on a critically ill child during a training session at Boston Children’s Hospital. ECMO is a machine that temporarily takes over a child’s weakened heart and lungs, giving him or her time to heal. To increase the child’s chances of survival, the team has to make every moment count.

About the Public VR Lab

www.publicvrlab.com

The Public VR Lab facilitates public dialogue; provides professional training; empowers community knowledge and creation of 360, virtual and augmented content; provides access to tools, headsets, arcades, toolkits, and professional expertise; and generates locally-focused, broadly impactful, Next Realities experiences in the public interest.

The Lab has trained immersive journalists, filmmakers, educators and storycoders to use VR/AR/360; offers VR Toolkits of hardware, software and curriculum to nonprofits, arts organizations and libraries; and has collaborated to create VR content, events and training programs with the Boston Globe, the United Nations, Women in Next Realities, Boston VR, the Town of Brookline, and the Northampton Film Festival.

About STAT

https://www.statnews.com

STAT is a national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine and scientific discovery. We produce daily news, investigative articles, and narrative projects in addition to multimedia features. We tell our stories from the places that matter to our reader– research labs, hospitals, executive suites, and political campaigns.

https://www.statnews.com/2017/10/20/360-videos-ebola-lab/

Building a Community VR Movement: The Lab Featured in MIT’s Immerse Publication

The Co-founder and Director of the Public VR Lab, Kathy Bisbee, was one of several immersive storytelling thought leaders featured in a recent MIT publication, Immerse, in an article about Who is VR for? Kathy shares her expertise and thoughts about building a national movement for Community VR, a phrase she’s used to describing how community media and place0-based arts organizations can develop to create hyperlocal immersive stories, games, journalism, and experiences in VR by collaborating, co-funding, and partnering with media outlets, municipalities, libraries, community media arts organizations, film festivals, and universities.

https://immerse.news/who-is-vr-for-20b3f077a912

 

 

Virtual Reality (VR) in the Public Interest….

Tomorrow we’re driving down to Games for Change in NYC. As usual, I’m thinking about VR-in-the-public interest and how we can differentiate gaming from the many other ways we can learn, share, create and teach VR. At the Public VR Lab, we’ve been teaching our community and beyond for over a year now to use new tools and equipment for community storytelling, immersive journalism, and documentary filmmaking in order to heal from trauma and to create awareness and action around the health of our planet. Here’s a few of this week’s highlights and resources we’ve seen so far in the space.

On the content creation side, our team is learning how we can deploy content, trainings and toolkits to our members, community of media makers and to share with other colleagues. While this may seem something drawn from the 1992 novel “Snow Crash” and its “metaverse,” it means the beginning of public creation tools and a door to many new social, creative and possibly economic platforms/spaces that are sure to follow for an almost ready VR-ready world. This might be the closest thing to Dreamweaver for VR that we’ve seen to date. P.S Snow Crash is a must-read.

Start Building Your VR Second Life in Sansar

Empathy-producing content can help us to understand what it is like to “be” a tree, or understand what it might be like to be in the body of another, and to feel “presence” that helps you to put yourself outside of your own experience. Feeling empathy inside of VR can even move us to action on issues like social and environmental justice in the “real” world.

VR-related technologies can help shape beautiful new ways we see ourselves, our current reality, and can shift our perception of what truth and reality are. VR can help us experience and understand many things from visceral perspectives that embody the experience of the “other.”

Tree, is a virtual-reality project that transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as branches and your body as the trunk, you’ll experience the tree’s growth from a seedling into its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand. Tree elevates the concept of empathy in VR, helping the participant understand what it’s like to be a tree in the Amazon. I particularly love the redwood version of this created by Marshmallow Laser Feast (I so love this name!) with a haptic feedback vest that makes you feel like you are entering inside the tree. 

And this project, RIOT  whose filmmaker, Karen Palmer, will speak at our favorite festival for storytelling, the Future of Storytelling in NYC this October. According to FOST, she was inspired by the events in Ferguson, MO, following the shooting of Michael Brown, and created RIOT, an emotionally responsive, live-action film that uses AI and machine learning through facial recognition to allow participants to navigate though a dangerous riot. Palmer’s work challenges participants to understand other people’s lived experiences, and represents a powerful development in the emerging field of neurogames.

Another area of VR-in-the-public interest growth is in the health sector, and how VR can make us “think” differently and even heal from trauma. This New York Times had a great story today about the use of VR by therapists to heal patients from the fear and trauma of car accidents, the fear of heights, flying, spiders, PTSD, and other forms of anxiety and stress.

And lastly, the team at the Public VR Lab sat in on an insightful VRARA webinar a few weeks ago hosted with Robert Scoble as he shared his always intriguing insights about where tech and VR in particular is headed (here). Check it out!

Gateway Arts Visits the Public VR Lab

We’ve been super busy this month at the Public VR Lab and Brookline Interactive Group.

We’re hiring a new Assistant Director, have several summer multimedia programs (aka “camps”) for kids, launched new VR classes for adults, and co-coordinated Crowdsourced Boston to get ten other community media centers involved in re-creating Back to the Future! BIG’s talented members won three awards at the Alliance for Community Media‘s national Hometown Awards, and BIG won Best Public Access Station in the country! Woot!

We are laying our plans for our fall eleven-day film sprint, curating the immersive content and LIVE VR ART at the Northampton Film Festival for their September 27-October 1st, 2017 fest, in collaboration with our sister organization, Northampton Community Television (NCTV).

We’re launching a national collaborative on a VR project around immigration stories, and an affiliate program will be announced soon so that libraries, teen centers, arts and cultural organizations and media centers can learn to share VR with their communities, have the equipment and training they need to start a Lab on site and engage their communities in a conversation about the future of 3D computing!

Our VR demos are weekly, and recently we had Lead Boston, Brookline High School math camps, and the Gateway Arts program stop by for a tour and VR demos at the Lab.

Check out the cool vid of their folks playing for the first time in VR above!

 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Immigrations Stories in Full Frame: Collaborative 360/VR Filmmaking

Collaborative Immigration Project: Deadline extended to 9/18/2017

We’re building a national collaboration project around 360 filmmaking, immersive journalism, and community storytelling. You’re invited to apply to join our team, and we’ve extended the deadline to help more folks apply to the project.

Join our cohort to learn, share, and create a 360/VR documentary project on “Re-imaging Migration” together over the next year, as well as a create traditional media content for our local, regional and national networks. We’ll even have an app, and insights throughout the project experts on immigration messaging, history of migration in America, and on interviewing techniques.

To Apply:

Please email info@brooklineinteractive.org with the following information:

  • Contact info for applicants
  • A description of your work and your organization (media center, news outlet, library, arts org, etc)
  • Your interest in 360 video and immigration stories in your community
  • Capacity: Describe the technical skills and interest of your team, storytelling, and journalism, as well as describing the immigration stories that you feel need to be shared from your community.
  • Describe a current collaboration you participate in and your experience in it. Why do you wish to collaborate with our project? What can you offer your cohort co-members?
  • Do you currently own any camera equipment? Any 360 equipment?
  • How able are you to meet monthly on a call with the cohort?
  • Application date is now September 18th, 2017 at midnight

We’ll begin our work together in late October/early November and it will continue through the summer of 2018.

Requirements: Team collaborative calls monthly to share successes, challenges, and opportunities,  webinars (optional), and training/tips on 360 filmmaking.

We’ll provide a 360 camera, an ambisonic microphone, training on 360 filmmaking, and on VR/AR technologies, and immigration interviewing techniques, and other topics and coordinate editing and submission of the final piece to film festivals as well as promote the work of the collaborative, locally, regionally and nationally.

We hope to together create a template for a strong immersive news/content sharing network, engaged communities, training programs, and collaborative, community-based VR projects.

We hope that we’ll find some best practices for how to work together as a national cohort group, developing our methods, techniques, strategies, funding, and distribution to create social impact in the area of immersive, empathetic immigration stories.

Hopes & Dreams 2017: A Community Storytelling Project in Virtual Reality

(Brookline, Mass., June 1st , 2017) The first publicly-funded virtual reality lab in the U.S. has launched a participatory virtual reality (VR) campaign titled Hopes & Dreams. The project allows viewers to access community-based stories inside a virtual reality headset, on the web and via mobile.

One goal of the Public VR Lab and this project is to reduce the barriers to entry and show that virtual reality content creation can be easily created and shared on 3D web sites using WebVR and the programming language A-Frame, an open source tool created by Mozilla.

Kathy Bisbee, co-founder of the Public VR Lab, said that the accessibility to mass media, and gaining access to equipment and training are issues that traditional community media and VR share, “The Hopes & Dreams project and WebVR help lower the barriers to entry in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space bringing new creators and storytellers into our community media centers to use our 360 cameras, and take classes in mixed reality content creation.”

“VR/AR is still in its nascent stages, but it’s growing fast. Many creators and storytellers don’t have the technical tools or the new skills required for this new industry,” citing the need for public accessibility to be part of the VR conversation.“

Nir Darom, BIG’s lead creative designer shared how the storytelling works in VR: “In the Hopes and Dreams project we wanted to let viewers feel as though they were right there, inside the circle of people sharing their hopes and dreams. Once you’re inside the circle, whoever you visually “click on” begins talking. This immediacy is what makes VR such a great documentary tool.”

When Fasility’s co-founders heard about the Public VR Lab’s mission, they knew WebVR and A-Frame would be a natural fit. “WebVR has the power to transform human storytelling,” said Kathy Trogolo, Fasility’s CEO. “Creators and storytellers are sharing something precious. Thanks to VR, their words and emotions are almost as impactful as they would be in person; plus, the interactive experience allows the viewer to pause and reflect on the content more deeply. The Public VR Lab and the Hopes & Dreams project is a perfect match with our mission to empower authors to create 3D immersive and interactive webspaces.”

Top five reasons WebVR is a key to the future of accessibility in VR/AR

  1. Works on the smartphone you already have in your hand
  2. Anyone can be an author – no expensive software or hardware needed
  3. Incorporates browser’s built-in accessibility features
  4. Works across mobile, desktop, and VR equipment like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  5. No app store!

Learn more about using WebVR to create virtual reality content at the free Boston Meetup at the Public VR Lab on June 8th, 2017 in Brookline, MA. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/web-vr-and-you-tickets-34548544627

To view the Hopes and Dreams Virtual Reality project, visit the site below: http://brooklineinteractive.org/had

About the Public VR Lab

@PublicVRLab

www.publicvrlab.com

Over the past year the Lab has demoed over 90 virtual reality experiences at senior and teen centers, offered free bi-weekly VR sessions at its Boston-area labs, curated interactive content for film festivals, launched a VR Academy with free and low-cost classes, organized a regional virtual reality hackathon focused on climate change, and created the first private-public partnership for two location-based augmented reality community storytelling projects.  

In its second year, the Lab is building on its long tradition of public access television, to provide increased accessibility and digital inclusion with an immersive media grant program, and teaching specialized classes at their low-cost VR Academy to support the production of experiential storytelling, immersive journalism, storytelling in games, and new forms of artistic expression in the public sphere.

About Fasility

@fasility_vr

http://fasility.com/

Fasility is a WebVR consultancy focused on education and user empowerment. Fasility helps their clients create web-based VR experiences that are easy to navigate, impactful, and play back on desktop, cardboard, and high-end VR devices. Established in 2016, Fasility prioritizes design, human factors, and interoperability to reach broad and inclusive audiences. Through studio projects and customized training, Fasility is bringing the power of VR to everyday content creators.

What Do You Want to Create at the Public VR Lab?

We need your help in developing the Public VR Lab! Click here to fill out our survey and earn a chance to win an Eco Dot or win a free Public VR Lab membership!

Thanks for your help in developing the Public VR Lab! Become a member and make amazing immersive media!

2017 VR Ecohack Highlight Reel

First Augmented Reality Location-Based Storytelling Project Launches about Boston Marathon Memories  

Last week the Brookline Hub wrote a story about our cutting-edge Boston Marathon Moments project, a collaboration to gather and share community stories in augmented reality (AR) with Traces, a startup founded by London-based neuroscientist, Beau Lotto. Read the story here:

http://brookline.wickedlocal.com/article/20160526/NEWS/160527132
Runners and spectators can add their own stories before, during, or after Marathon Monday through the Traces app, found at Traces.io. Along the marathon route on Beacon Street, near Coolidge Corner and Washington Square, spectators and visitors can use the app to view the stories floating through the air along Beacon Street, waiting to be discovered, caught, and read/watched.

BIG is partnering with Traces to create original local content to be placed around Brookline and the surrounding communities in the app, which community members can then view. Bisbee is interested in sharing and expanding this project, hoping next year to have each town along the marathon route involved in creating and sharing their stories along the Boston Marathon miles through their towns. Initially, this project will focus on the Boston Marathon route as it winds through two miles of Beacon Street in Brookline.

[Above: Our favorite Brookline runner’s Marathon Moment (so far!) that will be shared in augmented reality (AR) through the Traces app.]

To participate through the production studios at BIG, one can sign up to come in to BIG on a Tuesday evening or Wednesday afternoon to briefly talk about their marathon memories, which could range from a yearly tradition, standout memory, or even their thoughts on this famous event. Participating will take no more than 30 minutes. BIG will professionally film, edit, and produce a brief video for each participant, and then place their story along the marathon route in Brookline. Alternatively, anyone in the Boston area and on Marathon Monday can add stories directly through the Traces.io app to the “Marathon Moments” storytelling campaign.

To learn more and sign up for a time to film your marathon moment or to learn how to use the Augmented Reality app, please visit https://brooklineinteractive.org/marathon-moments/. For questions, please contact Erin Kinney at erin at brooklineinteractive.org.

 

“Help us, Ecohackers, you’re our only hope.” VR Eco Hack 2017

[Above: Co-founder of the Public VR Lab, Kathy Bisbee, transforms into a Princess Leia hologram to promote the first ever VR Ecohack.]

Join us for the VR EcoHack, a regional hackathon in Brookline, MA on April 21-23rd, 2017 where teams of students and adults can create climate change content in virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 video.

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vr-ecohack-hacking-the-future-in-vr-ar-360-tickets-32803656620?aff=es2

We’ll have lesson plans from educators with a focus on science and media literacy that attendees can follow to develop content, and mentors and volunteers will be available all weekend to help inspire and guide teams.

Bring a formed team or meet new teammates at this hackathon to create and test your stories and games on multiple headsets, including HTC VIVEs, Hololens, Oculus, PSVR, Samsung Gear, and more.

Use the Public VR Lab’s 360 cameras, computer labs, television studios, and 3D asset libraries to create your team’s content. Food, fun and ample caffeine. Cash and awesome equipment prizes will be provided in all three categories. [Above: *free Vr EcoHack stickers to all!]

Participants over 13 and of all levels of VR, AR and 360 experience are encouraged to sign up.

NEW TO VR? If you’re new to VR, we welcome you to sign up for a FREE week-long pre-bootcamp beginning on Tuesday, April 18 through Friday, April 21st to help you learn new skills in 3D object creation, 360 video, Unity, VR illustration tools, Simmetri, and learn the basics of Aframe to create content in Web VR.

Please sign up directly on our web site linked here for the VR bootcamp.

Read more about the Hackathon at www.vrecohack.com or sign up!

Thanks to the VR EcoHack partners: Brookline Interactive Group, The Public VR Lab, Boston VR, Teach for America, Wayfair, Fasility, VR Doodler, Mass Media Literacy, Traces.io, LearnLaunch, VR at MIT, the Brookline Public Schools, Lifeliqe, Simmetri, VR- Before It’s Too Late, the VR/AR Association, ROTU, and the Transformative Culture Project.