Virtual reality has moved into the classroom, with a host of online resources to allow students to watch 360-degree videos. Young people can search YouTube for these navigable videos and even use a Google Cardboard for a true virtual reality experience.
So how can students create their own virtual reality experiences? Recently I had the opportunity to visit Unarthodox, a special space in New York City that hosts classes designed to promote creativity and self-expression. One of their newest classes focuses on virtual reality and gives participants a chance to create their own videos. I had the chance to ask the folks at Unarthodox a few questions about how to create virtual reality videos.
What type of camera is used to capture the the 360 degree video?
For our introductory class, we use an entry-level camera. Specifically, the Ricoh Theta S, which shoots 360 degree video at 1080p.
Have you found that YouTube is the best way to share these videos? Are there other options you have explored?
YouTube is definitely a very accessible way to watch 360 videos; however, recent changes to iOS mean that iPhone users are locked out of 360 videos and have to download a separate app. We’re also exploring sharing and viewing through Facebook, but it’s still very early to call any one option the “best.” Everyone wants to be the “Netflix of VR,” but as we’ve seen with the revolution of Hulu, Vimeo, Netflix, Amazon, etc., people will ultimately go wherever the best content is.
How can you envision this technology being used to teach students literacy skills?
With any new platform and technological evolution, there’s a growth in excitement, which translates to motivation. Children are naturally intrinsically motivated, and if you increase the amount of options they have to express themselves and lower the barriers to do so, they’re more likely to accumulate whatever skills they need to create their vision, including literacy skills.
Virtual reality is an exciting tool that can connect to your curriculum. If you’ve tried using VR in your classroom, share your experiences below!
Monica Burns is an Author, Speaker, EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.
ROME (AP) — Beyonce told Serena Williams to dance and the tennis champion let loose.
Top-ranked Williams recounted Sunday how she came to have a part in the singer’s video, “Lemonade.”
Williams says, “I have known the director since I was like nine years old. I know Beyonce pretty well, so they were like, ‘We would love for you to be in this particular song. It’s about strength and it’s about courage and that’s what we see you as.'”
Williams’ appearance came on the song “Sorry,” which features Beyonce showing her man the stupidity of his cheating ways.
Williams says, “She told me that she just wants me to dance, like just be really free and just dance like nobody’s looking and go all out. So that wasn’t easy in the beginning, but then it got easier. … I thought that particular song on the visual album was really a strong song, and it was also really fun at the same time.”
ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — Six Ohio school districts closed on Friday while authorities investigated what turned out to be a misinterpretation of an anonymous video threatening the safety of “American students.”
Officials initially believed the threat might be directed toward Ohio University, but late Friday they said there was no risk to the university from the video, which was posted on the social media app Yeti by a user in Europe.
Investigators shared an image from the video that shows a hand holding a gun and the words: “Tomorrow American students will die. Some of u are ok. Don’t go to school tomorrow.”
A concerned member of the app’s Ohio University group alerted authorities to the threat, but they determined that the video appeared in the user’s Yeti feed based on keywords being monitored, not because the person making the threat was affiliated with the group.
Ohio University’s main campus in Athens remained open as officials there worked with law enforcement to evaluate the threat, university spokeswoman Katie Quaranta said. She said the week of final exams was wrapping up and weekend commencement ceremonies for thousands of graduates would proceed as scheduled.
The FBI has been working with local law enforcement officials, spokesman Todd Lindgren said late Friday. He declined further comment.
Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith told The Athens Messenger that his office learned early Friday about a general threat produced around Athens and made toward American students.
The districts that closed were Athens City, Nelsonville-York Local, Federal Hocking, Trimble Local, Alexander Local and Tri-County schools. Those largely rural districts have a total of more than 8,000 students, based on enrollment data provided to the state for last year.
In an audio message sent to parents, Athens schools Superintendent Tom Gibbs said his district decided to close given the “short time frame to respond to the threat.”
The Ohio Department of Education was monitoring the situation as the closed school districts worked with local law enforcement, department spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — The nation’s longest continuously operating coffeehouse is putting together a video featuring Arlo Guthrie and Garrison Keillor to celebrate the upstate New York folk music venue’s impending renovations.
The not-for-profit organization that runs Caffe Lena (LEE’-nuh) in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York, announced earlier this year that it will undergo $1.5 million in improvements to the building that houses the second-floor concert venue.
Organizers have been working on a music video that features Caffe Lena veteran Guthrie, “A Prairie Home Companion” host Keillor and Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary.
Caffe Lena, which turns 56 next month, is looking for people to gather on the street outside the venue Saturday morning to be filmed singing the final chorus for the video, which will be released through social media in the fall.
This story has been corrected to correct venue’s age to 56 instead of 66.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida has fired and arrested an officer they say hit a woman who was handcuffed.
Undersheriff Pat Ivey said in a news conference Thursday that authorities arrested 26-year-old probationary patrol officer Akinyemi Borisade on a battery charge.
Footage released by the sheriff’s office shows Borisade striking 31-year-old Mayra Martinez, who attempted to kick Borisade as she was being restrained and checked into a jail.
The incident began Wednesday after authorities responded to a dispute at a Jacksonville bar. Martinez had been asked to leave the bar, but refused to do so. Officials arrested her on charges including trespass.
Ivey says Borisade could have handled the situation differently without striking Martinez.
It’s unclear if Borisade has an attorney.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — At long last, it seems Hollywood has pushed the reset button on its approach to video game adaptations.
From the reviled 1993 live-action rendition of “Super Mario Bros.” to last year’s loathed arcade-inspired “Pixels,” big-screen interpretations of games have almost always failed to score with critics and audiences. With four films based on popular interactive series set for release in 2016, could this finally be the year video game movies win over filmgoers?
After decades of commercial and critical pitfalls when attempting to turn games into movies, Hollywood is trying out a few bold new strategies in an effort to tap the interactive medium for the latest hit movie franchise, including hiring A-list talent and collaborating more closely with game makers to rework their immersive creations for movie theaters.
“RATCHET & CLANK”
The first to launch is an animated film out Friday based on Insomniac Games’ zany platforming series for Sony’s PlayStation systems, starring wise-cracking alien tinkerer Ratchet and his witty robot sidekick Clank. The game creators didn’t simply foist their 14-year-old franchise onto filmmakers. They insisted on joining forces.
“Ratchet & Clank” features several of the interactive series’ original voice actors with a story by former Insomniac Games senior writer T.J. Fixman. The game studio also outsourced a few of their own artists to work with the film’s animators to guarantee their intergalactic romp looked and stayed true to what made the game franchise a victory.
“It’s crucial for anyone who works with the worlds and characters that we created to fully understand them,” said Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games. “We had lots of open conversations with everyone working on the project. As game creators, we always want to tell more stories. This was just another way to do that for an audience that’s hungry for it.”
Over the past 20 years, game publishers have typically handed over movie rights to Hollywood with little to no creative control. While the results have sometimes hit the mark (“Tomb Raider,” ”Resident Evil”), they’re usually unsuccessful undertakings that veer way off course from the originals (“Doom,” ”Double Dragon.”)
Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, said he’s been working with Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment to faithfully adapt “Ratchet & Clank” and silly stealth series “Sly Cooper” into animated films, as well with his colleagues at Sony Pictures to craft live-action versions of treasure-hunting adventure “Uncharted” and post-apocalyptic saga “The Last of Us.”
“I’m old enough to remember a time when people thought it was crazy to make movies out of comic books,” said Layden. “That’s certainly changed over the last decade. The really great games now have narratives featuring all sorts of age-old storytelling tropes. It’s become another great fountain of content that can be applied across other media.”
“THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE”
The largest leap for a game-based film this year will be from smartphones to multiplexes. Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony, will spread its wings May 20 with “The Angry Birds Movie.” The full-length animated film features Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride voicing a trio of feathered characters inspired by Rovio Entertainment’s mobile gaming sensation.
“Back in 2009 when we first created ‘Angry Birds,’ we made it deliberately character based so that if it were successful, we could take it beyond games,” said Mikael Hed, executive chairman at Rovio Animation studios and former CEO of Rovio Entertainment. “We actually have been holding back on the backstory of this world until now. It’s wonderful we’re going to be able to tell it now in this way.”
For a live-action version of the role-playing odyssey “Warcraft,” Legendary Entertainment and series creator Blizzard Entertainment turned to “Moon” and “Source Code” director Duncan Jones, who’s actually logged countless hours playing games from the 21-year-old fantasy series. The film starring Travis Fimmel is scheduled to debut June 10.
“It’s not unlike adapting a novel or a comic book,” said Jones. “I believe I’m a serious filmmaker. I know what it is I want to do with this movie. The source material is not what’s going to decide whether a movie I make is good or bad. It’s how I treat it and what I do with it.”
After losing its footing with the Disney film “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time” starring Jake Gyllenhaal in 2010, game publisher Ubisoft launched a film division in 2011 to independently transform its own game franchises into movies. The first is “Assassin’s Creed,” which is scheduled for release Dec. 21 and stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
“I think we’ve done something pretty original,” said Fassbender. “All of the stunt work, when we were out in Malta, was happening on site in real locations with stunt teams that are absolutely amazing. They were jumping from building to building in Mdina, the old town in Malta.”
Ubisoft’s dive into filmmaking will continue in the coming years with a “Splinter Cell” adaptation starring Tom Hardy as protagonist Sam Fisher, as well as a “Ghost Recon” movie produced by “Transformers” filmmaker Michael Bay. The game maker is also working to turn its hacker adventure “Watch Dogs” into a film.
With movie studios having already mined many comics and books for inspiration, comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian believes the time is right for the interactive medium to spawn a hit that outpaces “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” the most successful game adaptation in box office history.
“This is a genre waiting to erupt,” said Dergarabedian. “It’s a huge untapped resource that’s yet to be fully realized on the big screen and grab a huge audience.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/derrik-j-lang .