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WVU College of Media, Matterport collaborate to expand 3D/VR storytelling capabilities for students

The West Virginia University Reed College of Media and its students will be delving even deeper into 3D and Virtual Reality (VR) storytelling as spring semester begins.

The College is partnering with Mountain View, California, tech company Matterport to make immersive 3D and VR storytelling a more accessible part of the College’s journalism curriculum and to experiment with new forms of storytelling.

The Matterport Pro cameras will be used by students in an experimental storytelling class and will be introduced to more students through presentations and special projects in other courses. The specialized cameras, which will be on loan to the College, will enable students to scan and photograph spaces to automatically create a three-dimensional representations of them. Viewers can then “walk” through the space on their computers, mobile devices or VR headsets.

“With these cameras, we’ll be able to explore the complex issues faced in 3D, 360° imagery and VR storytelling,” said Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professor in Media Innovation Nancy Andrews. “This is the perfect tool for stories where the actual ‘space’ and ‘place’ is important. It could help tell the story of a crime scene or take the viewer to unique places they otherwise wouldn’t go.”

“Producing these experiences used to cost a lot of money, time and require years of practice,” said Andrews. “But for our students, 3D will become accessible. Not only will they be able to say, ‘I can do that,’ they’ll be able to point to their own work and say, ‘I did that.’”

Matterport’s end-to-end immersive solution is used in real estate to give potential buyers a complete view of a property’s interior and has also been adopted for use in hospitality, travel, galleries and museums to name a few. However, Andrews used it to enhance several news features and stories while serving as Chief of Innovation for the Detroit Free Press, including one about the Boblo Boat restoration from the SS Columbia Project.

The unique agreement marks the first time Matterport has collaborated with a University on a virtual reality project. Students who use the cameras will serve as beta testers and will be expected to provide feedback on camera use, tools and possible enhancements.

“We are thrilled that Professor Andrews is taking such innovative steps by introducing Matterport’s technology into the WVU College of Media curriculum in this progressive way,” said Michael Dutton, Matterport’s VP of Media. “The Matterport immersive media platform is an excellent tool for enhancing news stories, and we are very excited to see how the students at WVU will put the technology to use and innovate with this great new storytelling medium.”

Andrews will co-teach the class with College of Media Lecturer David Smith. Students will narrate and document their journey.

Read the official release at WVU Today.