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USA Today Launches ‘The Wall’ Featuring VR experiences of Life Along the US-Mexico Border

USA Today has created plenty of immersive 360-degree experiences, ranging from news show VRtually There to informative documentaries like USS Eisenhower VRToday the broadcaster has released a new project that’s at the forefront of US politics, examining President Trump’s signature campaign promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

Called The Wall: Unknown Stories, Unintended Consequences, the multi-media experience encompasses virtual reality (VR), bots, aerial and 360-degree video, documentaries, photos, podcasts, LIDAR data, exclusive reporting and an upcoming longform film. It brings the stories of the region to life, combining the effort of more than 30 reporters, photographers and videographers to provide a comprehensive understanding of the proposed wall, those who will be affected by it, and all of the issues surrounding it.

The Wall
USA Today Network reporter Dennis Wagner looks out the window of a helicopter as he flies over the Rio Grande River in Texas.

The journalists documented every mile of the border by helicopter so that viewers could see it all in HD video, where the towns and homes are, where the fences are, and the sometimes hundreds of miles gaps in between.

“This unprecedented project is a testament to the innovation happening across the USA Today Network,” said Maribel Wadsworth, SVP & Chief Transformation Officer, Gannett in a statement. “This project highlights our unique ability to leverage our local footprint along the border to educate and inform Americans on a crucial topic at an important time, as Congress debates funding for the proposed border wall.”

In terms of content, an interactive map lets users see every foot of the NETWORK’s end-to-end flight of the border, ten podcasts share the journalists’ behind-the-scenes experiences, and a Facebook Show page will house all 13 documentaries.

For the VR experience on HTC Vive, the team collected LIDAR data at eight hotspots along the border, then photogrammetry technology was used to create a virtual representation of the environment for users to explore.

For further USA Today VR projects, keep reading VRFocus.