Tech Tradeoffs

At almost every stage of the process, virtual reality journalism is presented with tradeoffs that sit on a spectrum of time, cost, and quality.

Given the technological challenges outlined above, we believe it is most useful to view the production choices for live-motion virtual reality as a series of tradeoffs.

First is a choice between the long production time needed to produce full-feature VR versus lower-quality caption and production that meets the immediacy of many journalistic needs. Soon, we will likely be able to add live VR to this spectrum, but for the near future the feature set and quality will be worse than even current short-turnaround production capability.

Second, the high cost and expertise requirements of adding interactives, CGI, high video quality, and headsets limit the range of organizations and individuals that can produce it. Ultimately, there is a very limited production capacity in newsrooms for high-end VR.

Third, high-production value also diminished the reach of the product, as it is only playable on high-end headsets. Even if distributed on a large commercial scale, it will still be very expensive.

In short, given the current technology constraints, a piece of VR journalism can be high-quality, long-turnaround, require a production team with extensive expertise, and have a limited audience. Or, it can be of lower production quality, quicker turnaround, and reach a wider audience.

Approach A Approach B
Production Quality High Lower
Turnaround time Long Shorter
Audience Limited Wider

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