ONA Weekly #371: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Immersive Content On A Budget

By on August 4, 2021

four people sit on stools wearing VR headsets

The do’s and don’ts of immersive content on a budget 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, immersive content is even more powerful in its ability to transform the experience of consuming news. VR projects like “Paradise,” exploring a radioactive atoll in the Marshall Islands, can really bring viewers to a new place and help them experience a story in a unique way. 

For many, though, immersive projects seem out of reach without a massive budget. That’s not necessarily true, say Nathan Griffiths, Lakshmi Sarah, Robert Hernandez and Scott Mayerowitz, who ran a session on making immersive content on a shoestring budget at ONA17. 

There’s a camera for almost every price point, the experts say, starting from the less-than-$200 Insta360 Nano, which can be mounted on an iPhone. Sarah adds that when it comes to equipment, the camera is not always the most crucial thing: the rigging setup (how you attach the camera) can be just as important for finding unique angles. See more on gear from this VR tipsheet.

ONA Alaska Leader Kyle Hopkins had ideas for what works and what doesn’t on a tight budget: 

  • Formats that have been a hit: Still 360 photos in visually interesting places, landscape portraits and “walk with me” videos in which a reporter is exploring a new location for the first time.
  • What’s not worth it: Headsets and audio. For Hopkins’ team, the video quality for headsets wasn’t there. And for those on a budget, built-in microphones often produced tinny audio filled with ambient noise. The team experimented with capturing audio separately and merging, but that could be tricky given the huge size of the files. 
  • Editing can be hit-or-miss. Because the team is used to editing for broadcast, they didn’t always have the best tools for fine-tuning 360 video and processing files, so they’ve focused on projects where you can just shoot and publish. 
We’re always on the lookout for helpful resources and tips. If you have other examples to share, please reply directly to this email.

Send us your ONA Insights session ideas by Thursday

We’re busy putting together our first in-person community event since 2019—ONA Insights, Oct. 14–15 in Philadelphia—and want to hear how you’d like to contribute. Session ideas for the Insights Suggestion Box are due Thursday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. EDT (1:00 UTC).

It’s been a long season of virtual-only panels, so we’re excited to put together a conference focused on active participation and collaboration. Let us know your programming hopes and dreams in the areas of audience development and metrics, product strategy and development and reimagining newsroom culture.


Fathm’s Newsroom Labs – Apply Now

Fathm Labs are a hands-on opportunity to design creative and practical strategies for your organization to address challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. Apply now for our AI Strategy and Revenue Development Labs or register your interest in upcoming Labs. 

Forecasting workshop with Future Today Institute on Aug. 9 

The next forecasting workshop from ONA and Amy Webb’s Future Today Workshop is happening Monday, Aug. 9. Now more than ever, organizations need to better understand uncertainty, evaluate multiple possibilities and build narratives for 10- to 20-year vision-setting. Workshop participants will learn foundational tools that will help you think like a futurist and better guide your news organization. If you’ve ever attended the Tech Trends presentation at our annual conference and left feeling thirsty for hands-on guidance, this workshop is for you.

Tickets are limited to 25 attendees for each session. Sign up today.

Stat of the week

Nearly two-thirds of the the 20 biggest dailies are run by a woman or person of color (or both), according to Nieman Lab. Learn more about women in newsroom leadership from our ONA2018 panel, which featured Elena Bergeron, Sharon Chan, Kristie Gonzales and Noelle Swan having a frank discussion about the realities of getting a seat at the table. 

Important dates

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

On our radar

The radar is now open for suggestions. Have you written or read a piece lately that would benefit others in journalism? We’re interested in sharing insights on trends, how-to guides, lessons from a project and other inspiration for innovation in digital journalism.

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash
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