Virtual reality has unlimited potential for gaming and entertainment, but it’s also a powerful way to drive important social change. Filmmakers everywhere see this and are pushing the boundaries of cinematic VR to tell stories with an impact. There’s also a large community of nonprofit organizations eager to embrace VR as a tool to raise awareness for causes in need of a voice.
One of our favorite examples is Clouds Over Sidra, Gabo Arora’s & Chris Milk’s short 360 VR video about a Syrian refugee in Jordan. Letting potential donors step into the life of a young girl as she explores a refugee camp helped raise $3.8 billion for UNICEF, nearly twice what was projected.
We’re kicking off a new initiative today called VR for Good and launching two pilot VR film programs to inspire the next generation of VR creators – starting with high school students, rising VR filmmakers, and nonprofit organizations.
360 Filmmakers Challenge for Students
The first program, the 360 Filmmakers Challenge, partners nine San Francisco Bay Area high schools with professional filmmakers to create 3-5 minute 360 films about their communities. Students will receive everything they need to create 360 videos for VR, including a Samsung Gear VR, a Galaxy S6, Ricoh Theta S 360 cameras, access to editing software, and VR film mentors.
Student from Oakland High School filming his project for the 360 filmmaker challenge
Students will learn new technology and production skills while they explore careers and higher education opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). At the end of the six week program, you’ll be able to watch the student videos on Facebook and in Oculus Video.
Students reviewing their 360 video footage
Filmmakers and non-profits working together
The second program, 360 Bootcamp for Nonprofits, kicks off this summer and teams up 10 rising filmmakers with 10 nonprofits to bring a variety of social missions to life through unique 360 videos designed for VR. Teams will start their filmmaking journey at a two-day bootcamp at Facebook HQ, July 26-27. We’ll supply the film teams with everything they need to create professional 360 videos, including Nokia OZO cameras, post production support, travel budget, and one-on-one mentorship with industry veterans. We’ll unveil the first videos at Sundance 2017.
Nonprofits can nominate their organizations and filmmakers can apply to be part of the program on May 30.
We look forward to seeing how these students and filmmakers impact important causes through creative VR work, and to expanding VR for Good to even more programs this year.
— The Oculus Team