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Zambia: The Week in Review

storytelling, zambia, nonprofit, storyup, 360 video, virtual reality,

In our first marketing makeover with StoryUp Studios, we headed to Zambia to teach the PET Project how to use iPads to tell the stories of the people they literally lift off the ground.

In the end, 40 Zambians who lack mobility were given hand-powered carts (an alternative to crawling, wheelbarrows and being carried, in most cases), we shot a 360-degree virtual reality video to show their experiences (more on that to come), and we taught the staff how they can keep sharing their amazing stories after we leave.

Check out these vlogs from throughout the week, all shot, edited and shared in under an hour using only my smartphone and earbuds. If anything should show that YOU are capable of this, these videos should! Got a free hour?

The first in hopefully many marketing makeovers for deserving organizations abroad that lack the money, time and training to share their stories of changing lives and changing the world for the better.

P.S. If you know of a deserving nonprofit organization, comment below!

Journalism Drone Test

journalism, storytelling, zambia, drone, journalism drone, virtual reality, 360 video

On Oct. 11, a group of journalists who'll be traveling to Zambia along with StoryLab later this month tested out a "journalism drone"--a consumer drone equipped with a virtual reality camera rig. Check it out!

Click  HERE  to watch the video on Sarah's feed.

Click HERE to watch the video on Sarah's feed.

Update: So, we got the drone into Zambia. Rick described it as a "personal recreational aviation device" to get us out of the U.S. and again, into Zambia, though getting out of the U.S. was significantly more difficult. In Zambia, people just thought it was strange.

Because our 360 cameras overheated really quickly in the heat, we onlyhad a few minutes to set up the drone and get it up in the air before our cameras would die, so it was quite a challenge (not to mention very very loud), but overall we got some great aerial shots of everyone in their PET carts.

Video: The Most Empathetic Medium?

video, virtual reality, 360 video, empathy, nonprofit, video empathy, storytelling

It's long been said that video is the most empathetic medium. But, that was before virtual reality was a thing--and a relatively common thing at that. With virtual reality, we can actually place ourselves in the lives of others.

In October, StoryLab will be visiting Zambia to train PET New Lift Zambia Center how to use smartphones to tell stories, but also to help StoryUp Studios shoot a virtual reality film from the perspective of a disabled person who must crawl on the ground to get around.

Here's just a little something about the power of video, and the potential of virtual reality.


Virtual Reality Goes Mobile

virtual reality, 360 video, mobile VR, mobile, mobile virtual reality, google cardboard, storyup studios, oculus rift, sarah hill

Virtual Reality is going mobile

If you've never experienced virtual reality, you should make it a part of your own reality very soon. Recently, Sarah Hill of StoryUp Studios, a virtual reality production company, stopped by our office to show us some of the latest in VR, from Google Cardboard to Oculus Rift and a handful of headsets in between.

Although the experience of Oculus Rift is the gold standard of immersive video (I forgot I was in a room full of people. Skydiving in Norway seemed THAT real!), Google Cardboard makes VR accessible to the masses. For $20, you can buy a headset, or you can make one yourself for only a couple dollars.

“Cardboard aims at developing accessible virtual reality (VR) tools to allow everyone to enjoy VR in a simple, fun and natural way.”

Even at Mobile World Congress, virtual reality outshined the latest smartphones. Although there were some headsets that needed to be plugged into a PC to work (not very mobile at all, as The Verge says), many were phone-based, like Google Cardboard.

For example, Samsung showed off its latest version of Gear VR, which works with Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. “It’s an improved version of the concept the company first introduced last fall, and it represents what may be the most likely way consumers will first experience modern VR systems,” Dan Seifert writes.

“The dominant way most consumers will experience virtual reality will be on mobile devices.”

“PCs and dedicated machines will always have more power, but at some point, graphics become ‘good enough’ on a mobile device and none of that matters anymore,” says Max Cohen, head of mobile at Oculus VR, the virtual reality startup bought by Facebook this year for $2 billion.

Of course, phones still have some shortcomings, from overheating to battery life and positional tracking. So, there are still things to work through, Cohen says.

“Will [VR's move to mobile] be in two years’ time? Five years? Ten? I don’t know. But it will happen. You can’t surpass the beauty of being untethered.”

We already know we can use our phones to tell amazing stories, but here's another way we can use our phones to consume amazing stories in an entirely new way.

StoryLab Teaches Digital Storytelling to Mobility Nonprofit in Zambia

storytelling, zambia, nonprofit, digital storytelling, training, virtual reality, 360 video,

Imagine spending your entire life on the ground...

For some, this is reality. Around the world, people lacking mobility also lack transportation options. They're carried, they crawl, or they don't leave their homes.

Since 2000, the PET Project has donated more than 50,000 hand-cranked, all-terrain wheelchairs in 100 countries.

On October 27, 28 and 29, hundreds more—in Zambia—as they receive the gift of mobility, many for the first time. As part of a StoryUp Studios project, StoryLab will be sharing this story and providing digital training to staff PET's New Life Zambia Center using donated iPads.

StoryUp Studios will be producing a virtual reality video of these peoples' experience living life from the ground, and the Reynolds Journalism Institute will be using journalism drones to capture aerial footage of the wheelchair distribution day.

Join us here, from October 24 through November 4, for daily updates from the trip and mobile storytelling projects.