VENICE, Calif. — Bryn Mooser is “hell-bent” on changing the world, via virtual reality.
Think of his Huffington Post/RYOT outfit as the Viceof virtual reality. A scrappy group of globe-trotting video journalists out for social change, HuffPost/RYOT has been tapped by Google to serve as the VR “breaking news” unit for its new Daydream platform and headset.
“VR is a world we’re excited about, because you’re no longer telling people a story,” says Mooser, 37, the co-founder of RYOT and the video frontman for RYOT's new VR programming. “You’re having them experience it.”
Daydream is Google’s $79.99 higher-resolution answer to Google Cardboard, the cheap $15 viewer to watch VR via mobile phones. The segments are viewed via a YouTube VR app through the newly released Daydream headset. Last week, RYOT was in Haiti and most recently was in North Dakota, covering protests to a proposed pipeline.
Additionally, RYOT just debuted two VR shows via the Hulu VR app with Daydream. There's a comedy series, Virtually Mike and Nora, and The Big Picture, a globe-trotting VR news show hosted by Mooser. The shows get 30-day exclusives to Daydream, then will be available for viewing, again via the Hulu app, on more VR outlets — Facebook's Oculus, Samsung Gear and Sony PlayStation VR.
(For the 99.99% of you who don't have Daydream, you can see RYOT's 360 work on its ryot.huffingtonpost.com website, the RYOT and HuffPost Facebook page and on YouTube.)
The news show is shot in the field but edited here in a small storefront near a liquor store and vintage collectible shop.
VR has become a hot commodity for media companies looking to the next big thing to lure in audiences and advertisers. USA TODAY produces the weekly VRtually There VR show, which focuses on getting viewers "first-person perspectives" in action-oriented settings, and The New York Times produces a daily 360 news segment on its website.
The RYOT team was an early mover in VR, notes Jamie Byrne, the director of partnerships for YouTube, which made the firm a natural candidate to work with. “We wanted to try something people wouldn’t expect in VR, which is breaking news," he says.
Though Google has signed up many partners to produce VR programming to be seen via Daydream — including CNN, BuzzFeed, Tastemade and The New York Times — few folks will get to experience it. The headset works with only one phone, Google’s new Pixel, which was released in October. Many more will watch VR on YouTube or Facebook, which both show 360 clips that can be viewed by moving the mouse or your finger to see all the angles.
Mobile and desktop VR “is a great place to start ... a baby step,” Mooser says, but a good headset takes you “inside the story. It’s different from watching news on TV. You’re not watching, you’re experiencing it.”