By Jessica Lacombe-
Virtual Reality. At first mention, I immediately thought of video games. After a few internet searches, I found myself looking through video after video of the ways people are utilizing virtual reality outside of video games.
One story truly stood out to me. Chris Milk is an interactive storyteller that is currently using virtual reality videos to change human behavior. As a filmmaker, he wants people to truly feel the experience that he intends with the goal to teach empathy. He wanted to be able to put people inside of the actual video rather than looking through a frame or window, as he found that if you are actually present in the situation, you will naturally have more empathy.
Chris used a virtual reality camera that films from every direction to follow the story of a young girl names Sidra from Syria. The finished product is his video “Clouds Over Sidra”. It takes place at a refugee camp in Jordan, where Sidra had been living for a year and a half. When you are listening to the girl talk, you can look around her room and see her surroundings. You are so immersed in Sidra’s world that you feel like you are sitting in her room with her. You feel her fear and see her struggles firsthand. Chris took this footage to the World Economic Forum where they all found themselves affected and drawn to Sidra’s story more than if they had watched a regular video.
The response was so overwhelming that Chris helped to start the company VRSE.Works. He is currently working with the United Nations to shoot more films like this in Libya and India. They will be shown to decision makers, people with the power to change the lives of those featured in the videos.
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