AOL Inc.’s Huffington Post has acquired Ryot Corp., a virtual reality news and documentary producer, for an undisclosed amount.
Ryot of Venice will train and outfit Huffington Post’s 15 international reporting bureaus with 360-degree and virtual-reality video equipment to be used for covering breaking news. The media company’s webpage, which hosts virtual reality documentaries on subjects such as the war in Syria and dolphin captivity, will continue as a branch of the Huffington Post.
Virtual reality and 360-degree videos are filmed with similar cameras, though they are viewed by audiences differently. Virtual reality content is viewed within virtual reality headsets, while 360-degree video is viewed on cellphones, tablets, and desktop computers.
Ryot’s 25-person team aims to help Huffington Post hone some of the techniques needed to effectively use virtual-reality and 360-degree videos in reporting, said Ryot Chief Executive Bryn Mooser. Over the past year, the production company has produced 360-degree videos to cover breaking news events across the globe.
“We were in Brussels after the attacks, we were in Cuba when Obama was there, we were with the Bernie Sanders campaign,” said Mooser.
Ryot distributes its content through several channels, including its own virtual reality mobile app, Oculus Share, YouTube 360, and Facebook 360. Producing these types of videos comes with challenges that other types of media, such as broadcast television, do not face, said Mooser. For example, content producers often struggle to focus viewers’ attention because users can view scenes from different angles.
“One of the things that is interesting is that you are able to see everything (with virtual reality). You’re not hiding wires, a camera, or a journalist,” said Mooser, adding that many virtual-reality and 360-degree video filming techniques are still being perfected. “I think the roles are still being written on how to tell these stories.”
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