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NYT VR’s Latest Gear VR Documentary Explores Deafness and Sound

The New York Times (NYT) has collaborated on plenty of virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree films and experiences since it first launched a dedicated app – NYT VR- back in 2015 for mobile devices. But it wasn’t until August this year that the app came to the most popular mobile VR headset, Samsung Gear VR. Today, Oculus has announced a new documentary for the app, Sensations in Sound, exploring the relationship between hearing and being deaf.

Created in collaboration between NYT VR and light-field camera technology company Lytro, Sensations in Sound: “tells the story of Rachel Kolb, a Rhodes scholar who received a cochlear implant at the age of 20,” explains the Oculus Blog. “Working with Lytro, The New York Times blends light-field live-capture technology with hand-drawn animation by James Merry—who also happens to be deaf—to bring Rachel’s words to life.”

“‘Sensations of Sound’ is the first time we’ve applied Light Field technology to hand-drawn animation,” says Lytro Creative Director Chrissy Szczupak. “It really allows you to connect with Rachel’s story by taking you on a truly unique journey of the senses.”

“‘Sensations of Sound’ tells such a powerful story that simply couldn’t have been captured in such an intimate way through a more traditional medium,” adds Szczupak. “We’re honored to be a part of bringing Rachel’s story to life for such a fundamentally personal experience.”

Just like the the NYT VR app, Sensations of Sound is completely free to download.

Recently VRFocus caught up with Lytro at AR and VR on the Lot in California, siting down with Orin Green, the VR/VFX Supervisor at Lytro Inc. to talk about what they’re focusing on and the VR experiences they were showcasing, which included its recent collaboration with Within on Hallelujah.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of NYT VR, and Lytro, reporting back with the latest announcements.