Students create tool to help journalists enhance 360-degree videos
A Moody College of Communication team has created a tool called ImmerJ to help journalists add storytelling depth to their 360-degree videos, giving viewers a more immersive experience.
Filmmaker and immersive media explorer Deepak Chetty and Journalism Director R.B. Brenner led the project, which included students from the School of Journalism and the Department of Radio-Television-Film. Students and researchers working at The Texas Advanced Computing Center’s visualization lab built the tool.
Photo credit: Sarah Linder
The project received funding from the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund, the university’s Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology, and the Moody College of Communication. Washington Post, National Public Radio and Texas Tribune journalists provided guidance throughout the development process.
At every step, from early design to final build, the team worked to make it as easy as possible for journalists using ImmerJ to import finished 360-degree videos and enhance them with headlines, sub-headlines, captions in body type, graphics, 3D objects, and even conventional framed video clips. Journalists can do all without having to tinker with any of the computer programming that’s below the surface.
The project began more than two years ago when UT-Austin students and faculty partnered with The Washington Post on a virtual reality story. In the process, team members asked themselves: Can we develop a standalone tool for 360-video enhancement that has advantages over the traditional post-production workflow?
Among the advantages of ImmerJ:
- It renders and exports in real time, unlike most other editing software.
- It outputs .mp4 files that are compatible with any 360-video player, including those on headsets.
- It looks and acts like software familiar to video journalists, with a timeline and a simple, graphic-based interface.
Among the initial 10 beta testers, a Stanford University class has completed the first published story experience using ImmerJ.
School of Journalism