Dan Pacheco seeks to legitimize virtual reality

By Marcell Walton

Dan Pacheco believes in the power of experiential storytelling. His presentation, “You Are There: Telling Stories with immersive technologies, including 360, VR, AR and full body haptic interactions,” introduced the MobileMe&You audience to his perspective on this emerging field of journalism.

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The presentation centered around Pacheco’s own personal experiences with experiential media and that of his students. Experience is the key word, as Pacheco considers experience to be one of the most attractive things about this new method of storytelling.

“We often say, you had to be there, now we can say -- here, go there,” Pacheco said.

“Going there” helps eliminate some of the distance from a story. In turn, the removal of distance allows the user to more readily engage with the content, and possibly builds or strengthens a sense of empathy in the process.

The presentation also featured the work of several of Pacheco’s former students and colleagues in the industry. While he acknowledged that these technologies (VR and AR) still had a long way to go, he also championed the limitless potential of using experiential journalism, when done correctly and with improving technology.

Pacheco also asked audience members questions in regards to the still-forming ethics of virtual and augmented reality, questions that likely have never been considered until now. Is it ok to digitally remove something from a shot? Can a journalist stage a shot? How does one handle an unintentional capture? All legitimate questions that now need be answered with a form of media that takes place in a 360 degree space.

Pacheco referenced a lot of software and hardware throughout the presentation that journalists should consider, however, the presentation was novice friendly focused on the power of storytelling rather than technical mastery.