Fresh from his documentary win at Sundance, cinematic journalist Danfung Dennis has announced some early details of his next project called Condition ONE. It looks to be a highly immersive virtual reality video project which Danfung hopes will allow viewers to experience news events more fully.
Danfung hasn’t disclosed too much detail about the actual system used other than to say it is based on a Canon video-capable DSLR which can capture the entire human field of view as a distorted circular image. The image is subsequently projected onto the inside of a dome for immersive viewing. The same image can also be displayed on an Ipad app which allows the user to pan around the video image as it plays.
The video below shows just how it would work and was shot not in a sterile test environment but rather on the frontlines in Libya, by photojournalist Patrick Chauvel. The new technology gives the viewer a totally different sense of what is happening.
This is what Danfung had to say about the project:
“Visual imagery can be a powerful medium for truth. The images of napalmed girls screaming by Nick Ut, the street execution of a Vietcong prisoner by Eddie Adams, the shell-shocked soldier by Don McCullin – these iconic images have burned into our collective consciousness as reminders of war’s consequences.
But, this visual language is dying. The traditional outlets are collapsing. In the midst of this upheaval, we must invent a new language. Condition ONE combines the power of the still image and storytelling, the emotional engagement of tactile experiences, and the compelling nature of being an active participant in an effort to pioneer a new language that is so immersive, that it will shake viewers out of their numbness to traditional media and provide them a powerful emotional experience. Instead of opening a window to glimpse another world, we are attempting to bring the viewer into that world.
Our early prototype camera uses a Canon DSLR to capture the entire human field of view. It creates a highly distorted circular image. Once that image is projected onto the inside of a dome (image a sphere cut in half), the distortion melts away, giving the viewer a visceral sense that they are in the scene- the traditional frame no longer exists.. We have developed a virtual version of this dome for the iPad, which uses the full capabilities of the device. Condition ONE is developing next generation stories for next generation platforms.
Through our work we hope to shake people from their indifference to war, and to bridge the disconnect between the realities on the ground and the public consciousness at home. By bearing witness and shedding light on another’s pain and despair, we are trying to invoke our humanity and a response to act. Is it possible that war is an archaic and primitive human behavior that society is capable of advancing past? Is it possible that the combination of photojournalism, filmmaking and technology can plead for peace and contribute to this future?”
About Danfung Dennis:
Danfung has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006. His images have been published in Newsweek, Time and The New York Times. His footage in PBS Frontline Obama’s War was nominated for a 2010 Emmy Award. His documentary, Hell and Back Again, won the World Cinema Jury and Cinematography Awards at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He is the founder and CEO of tech/media startup Condition ONE. His background is in Applied Economics and Business Management, consulting small and medium sized enterprises in emerging markets.