ABC News VR launches today with an immersive 360 degree virtual reality experience that transports viewers to the streets of Damascus, a city now largely cut off from the outside world. In collaboration with JAUNT, a leader in totally immersive live-action VR experiences, ABC News’ Alexander Marquardt documents the city’s endangered treasures that can now be accessed anywhere on mobile or desktop by visiting ABCNews.com/VR or by downloading JAUNT’s VR app for iOS and Android devices. In addition, Marquardt’s full report from Syria on the preservation of antiquities from ISIS’ destruction will air on “Nightline” this evening.
EXPERIENCE #ABCNewsVR: ABCNews.com/VR
WATCH: Behind the Scenes in Syria
See below for ABC News President James Goldston’s note to staff:
I want to share an exciting new development with you all, as today we launch ABC NEWS VR, bringing virtual reality storytelling to the news division and beyond.
Our inaugural project is a special one, an immersive experience captured while in Syria. In early August, Alexander Marquardt and his team traveled to Damascus to explore the secret holding rooms where curators are working tirelessly to protect and preserve Syria’s endangered antiquities.
This rare access also included the streets and historical sights of Damascus, now largely cut off from the outside world. Alex and his team explored those streets with one of Jaunt’s stereographic cinematic VR cameras, documenting the city’s sites – historical treasures now in peril. From the Damascus Citadel and Souk to the Umayyad Mosque and the National Museum, Alex transports viewers into the story, providing a depth of reporting –and a personal guide- unlike anything we’ve done before.
In a first for network television news, ABC NEWS VR will enable viewers to immerse themselves in a 360 degree virtual reality experience within Syria, that can be accessed anywhere on mobile or desktop by visiting ABCNews.com/VR and by downloading Jaunt’s VR app for iOS and Android devices.
We’ve all witnessed the enormous toll of that nation’s conflict, most vividly in recent weeks, as the refugee crisis reached a tipping point. We’ve also witnessed that toll in the shocking destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage, namely at the hands of ISIS.
In reports airing on "World News Tonight," "Nightline” and across our digital platforms today, Alex gets a firsthand look at these rescued artifacts, some saved from Deir Ezzor, as ISIS fired on the team loading the boxes onto trucks. He delves into the lucrative and dangerous world of the smugglers who trade and sell these stolen items along the ancient routes that are as old as the artifacts themselves.
I’m pleased to say that we’ll be providing all of you with your very own “ABC NEWS VR” Google Cardboard, so each of you can see the whole picture from your mobile device.
A big thank you to the team behind this ambitious project, with a special nod to Bruno Roeber, Rym Momtaz, Ronnie Polidoro and Raj Moorjani.
The collaboration between Jaunt and ABC News takes our storytelling to a new frontier. And I can’t wait to see how you use this new technology to engage our audience in thrilling new ways.