Our VR Research Showcased at IBC 2015

At the 2015 edition of the IBC Conference in Amsterdam, Al Jazeera Media Network demonstrated its recent R&D efforts into cinematic virtual reality (VR).

Visitors in the Future Zone of IBC 2015 explore Al Jazeera’s VR research.

The showcase took place for 5 days (Sept. 11–15) in the Future Zone, a section of the IBC Exhibition dedicated to upcoming media technologies.

On display were the the first two prototypes of the StoryMount 14, a custom-designed, 3D-printed camera rig that uses fourteen off-the-shelf GoPro cameras to capture 360-degree footage that is also three dimensional in all directions.

Prototypes of Al Jazeera’s StoryMount 14 camera rig as demonstrated by Ousama Itani.

Oculus Rift head-mounted displays and smartphones. The footage was captured using the StoryMount prototype, including sample field reports produced in partnership with Al Marsad, a program from Al Jazeera Arabic, and sample documentary footage filmed in Cambodia in conjunction with the Al Jazeera English programme 101 East.

In addition, Al Jazeera demonstrated footage using Oculus Rift head-mounted displays and smartphones. The footage was captured using the StoryMount prototype, including sample field reports produced in partnership with Al Marsad, a program from Al Jazeera Arabic, and sample documentary footage filmed in Cambodia in conjunction with the Al Jazeera English programme 101 East.

Al Jazeera plans to open-source the design files for the 3D printed StoryMount 14, making them available freely for modification and reuse, in the hopes of encouraging independent producers and small media organisations to take a similar low cost, high speed approach to producing their first VR content.

The camera rig and footage were well-received by exhibition visitors, and Al Jazeera’s story was featured in a interview in the IBC’s conference-wide video programme “What Caught My Eye” in the category of “Blue Sky Thinking,” as well as in a write-up in the daily IBC newspaper.

VR content producers and distributors remarked at the dynamic and unique nature of the footage, as well as the innovative approach to low cost, high quality VR.

Al Jazeera shared the Future Zone with companies devoted to VR, including VideoStitch, Jaunt VR, Sphericam, Rewind, Nozon and LiveLike, as well as other media innovation groups such as BBC Research & Development..

Al Jazeera is looking to use several versions of its 3D printed camera rig to discover the best ways of producing VR content.

The Innovation and Research group (operating within the Strategy and Development division) at Al Jazeera Media Network explores the intersection of media, technology, and culture, through both internal research and its open innovation initiative, Canvas.

Al Jazeera Media Network launched in 1996 and is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, transmitting from multiple international broadcast centres and more than 70 bureaus around the world. Al Jazeera strives to deliver content that captivates, informs, inspires and entertains.