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Fader: What the consortium has been up to (III)

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No worries: The summer break is long over. It only took us a while to write a thorough Fader update post. Because everybody in the consortium (DW Innovation, Euronews, Vragments) has been really busy.
We – or more precisely: the alpha geeks among us — gave the editor/platform a couple of cool new features. We also attended and/or hosted several interesting VR/360 events in the last couple of months. And we made sure Fader won’t run out of fresh content anytime soon.

Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve achieved since the beginning of August.

New Fader Features

Enhancing a VR/360 story with spheric text has become much more interesting, as you can now use fonts in individual colors and put them in boxes with individual frames. These text boxes can then also be filled with individual colors — or remain transparent. Speaking of transparency: Fader now also supports semi-transparent images (alpha channel), a feature that allows for some nice effects: Why not put the Cologne Cathedral in that 360 still of your garden, for example?

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As for making our content more accessible, we’ve made a huge step by creating a site called Fader Discover. This is where you can easily find and filter Fader stories created by other people and organizations. Happy browsing! Fader story landing pages look a lot sassier now, by the way, and they’ve become responsive.

Lest we forget: Role management and metrics features are still under development — but we’ll get there with a couple of sprints.

VR Events

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In mid August, INTERACTIVE Festival in Cologne invited us to talk about Fader and immersive storytelling in a keynote. We also got to join a very interesting VR panel and the INTERACTIVE VR cinema.

September was just packed: At the beginning of the month, Deutsche Welle got to join another inspiring VR panel and present Fader at Campfire Festival, an alternative conference for journalism and new media held in Dortmund.

From September 11th to September 15th, Vragments turned a Berlin art gallery/performance space into a special makeshift store. Everybody could walk in, test VR/360 gadgets, watch immersive stories, learn about Aframe and Unity, or discuss the ethics of VR journalism. Hello VR pop up week! Deutsche Welle and Euronews happily supported, the whole thing was quite successful, and Vragments documented the experience in a blog post. There was also some coverage by the German tech press.
On September 22nd, several members of Team Fader came together in Berlin yet again: It was time of the third installment of VR Conference. The event featured a number of excellent keynotes and showcases and was co-hosted by Vragments. It was also deservedly sold out. A collection of conference Tweets can be found here and here, and there’s also a nice Vragments recap.

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Only a couple of weeks ago, Deutsche Welle went to St. Denis/Paris to join a special VR meeting hosted by the EBU within the scope of the Cross Video Days. This workshop/conference was also very fruitful: About two dozen techies, journos, and digital storytellers from all over Europe (and Malaysia) shared their learnings and best practices — and the EBU collected all the material and subsequently  put it on its website (sorry, access for EBU members only). The main event was great, too: Deutsche Welle was part of a prime time panel on the main stage and later on got the chance to meet several VR/360 designers, directors, and producers, almost all of them interested in taking Fader for a spin.

Last minute update: As we’re writing this, Vragments is at Medientage München to present Fader.

New Fader Stories

There have also been a lot of positive news on the content front:

In September, journalists of DW’s German language news service published the broadcaster’s first official Fader story: It’s an experimental immersive piece on the state of the Berlin republic before the Federal election (Bundestagswahl), showcasing Fader’s ability to process all sorts of media assets (360 video, flat video, still photos, sound clips) simultaneously:

The creation of the story also led to the creation of a branded VR/360 design kit for Photoshop and Premiere (information carriers with DW fonts, navigation icons, nadir covers etc.). This kit is now will eventually be available to every DW storyteller in every newsroom.

Euronews created a story on the Bundestagswahl, too, relying on the rock-solid storytelling concept and Fader template created earlier this year for the Presidentielle:

Euronews has now three major Fader stories under their belt (here’s the link to the great piece on climate change again), and a fourth one is in the making: It will be an immersive report on street art in Lisbon (in Portuguese).

There’s also some very nice new UGC. For example this creative story recapping a bike trip in Tuscany, produced by a DW colleague who is neither an immersive journalist nor an innovation manager, but simply curious and a fan of our tool.

Other News

With the word about Fader spreading across Deutsche Welle, Euronews and the international VR/360 community, we are happy to announce there are more exciting Fader storytelling projects coming up. All of them are in their early stages, though, which is why we
can’t reveal any names or details now.
On a final note, a highly regarded former team member and everlasting Fader gladiator published an interesting Medium post on what it’s like to introduce VR/360 at a legacy newspaper.

(Alexander Plaum)

Photos courtesy of internet meme culture (1), INTERACTIVE Festival (2), and Cross Video Days (3).

Date

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

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