Earlier this month the Fuego volcano erupted with its pyroclastic flows burying much of the Guatemalan village of San Miguel Los Lotes. Now the York Times have released a feature that leverages augmented reality (AR) to take readers closer than ever before to see the damage caused by this natural natural disaster.
The eruption of the Fuego volcano started on June 3rd, throwing a tower of ash more than a mile into the sky. Burning lava, rocks and gas than cascaded down the slopes of the volcano in all directions. Five miles below the volcano is the village of San Miguel Los Lotes which were use to seeing the odd event due to the active natural of the volcano but were not ready for the eruption that occurred on that day. Explosions were followed by a pyroclastic flow that engulfed the village in deep ash with up to temperatures of 1,600 Fahrenheit, 870 Celsius. Now, San Miguel is a ghost town and the New York Times is using technology to explore the aftermath.
To build the AR experience for readers, producer Niko Koppel and the team took 727 photos in 29 minutes to transform the environment into an immersive 3D experience. Talking in a Times Insider story, Koppel explains the process of capturing and building immersive storytelling by using AR technology to convey the scale of the disaster in a new way. By bringing readers closer to the story by allow them to view, interact and walk through the environment, witnessing the story first hand, is an opportunity deliver more engaging storytelling.
Readers are able to explore the aftermath of the eruption by viewing a buried truck that is now sitting in at the village covered in ash, sand, rocks and other debris. The team took all the photos using a Nikon D800 and then uploading them into a photogrammetry program, which recreated the photo data into a 3D model. The end result is then viewable by readers using a smart phone or tablet bringing new life to the story.
Previously the New York Times have produced a number of AR experiences including the InSight Mission to Mars, profiles of Winter Olympic athletes and an up-close examination of David Bowie’s costumes.
For more on the New York Times use of AR and immersive technology in the future, keep reading VRFocus.