Monday, 26 February 2018

BBC News invests in virtual reality documentary series

The BBC aims to bring its award-winning journalism to audiences seeking new, immersive experiences by launching its first VR-first documentary series, Damming the Nile.

Produced by BBC News and the BBC VR Hub, Damming the Nile comprises of a two-part VR documentary, a half-hour programme on BBC World News, and a radio documentary on BBC World Service, as well as video and text on BBC VR Hub is a studio spearheading VR production at the BBC and aims to explore how VR can create real audience impact.

The documentary follows BBC Africa correspondent, Alastair Leithead, on a journey along the Nile, aiming to explore the politics and potential impact of Ethiopia’s $4.7-billion hydroelectric dam.

To support the viewing of Damming the Nile, the BBC has launched an app on the Oculus Store, where Samsung Gear VR users can access an array of BBC VR content across news – factual and entertainment.

Whilst VR headsets aren’t yet mainstream devices, shorter versions of the film have been made available in 360 video formats. For audiences with access to a smartphone, Damming the Nile is accessible to view on, as well as the BBC News Facebook and BBC News YouTube pages.

James Montgomery, digital development director for BBC News, says, "We’re committed to looking at ways in which to engage audiences with news and, for the right project, VR can be an impactful and memorable way of doing our journalism. As an international broadcaster, it’s important for us to develop our storytelling and editing expertise to keep abreast of these rapidly improving technologies."

Leithead adds, "Damming the Nile is a fascinating series exploring the geopolitical struggle for regional power and influence surrounding the world’s longest river. It shows that virtual reality can be used to give a new perspective on world affairs and engage new audiences with world-class BBC News reporting. There’s nothing more exciting than taking the audience on an immersive journey with you."

Damming the Nile is available on the BBC VR Oculus app,, BBC News Facebook, and BBC News YouTube. Short versions of the documentary series and text articles are also available. The half-hour documentary on BBC World News will air at 12:30 GMT on Saturday, 24 February and at 00:30, 07:30, and 19:30 GMT on Sunday, 25 February. 

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