Augmented Reality Journalism, Drone Journalism, Journalism of Things: A Closer Look at Three New Kinds of Tech-Driven Reporting

Augmented Reality Journalism, Drone Journalism, Journalism of Things: A Closer Look at Three New Kinds of Tech-Driven Reporting

There are those who say that when you are occupied with creating and disseminating fact-based reports dealing with current events, that will always be called journalism – no matter what kind of tools you enlist. However, other people argue that there is a significant difference between writing a standard newspaper article and putting out a multilayered, interactive digital story that features text, pictures, videos, audio, and data repositories. While we hope that there continues to be a common denominator, we tend to agree that there are now indeed very different kinds of journalism, some of them driven by technologies that were in their infancy or not available just a decade ago. In the following post, we will take a closer look at three new (sub)categories of digital reporting that are particularly appealing to us and have played a significant role in recent projects: Augmented Reality (AR) Journalism, Drone Journalism, and Journalism of Things (JoT).

Flat Objects, Flying Cams, and Photogrammetry:  The V4Design Pipeline

Flat Objects, Flying Cams, and Photogrammetry: The V4Design Pipeline

“What kind of video footage can we best rehash for digital 3D reconstruction?” – that’s one of the main questions we’ve been exploring in the V4Design project. Our aim is to train innovative photogrammetry algorithms, i.e.: to automatically turn multi-perspective 2D video shots of an object (e.g. an iconic building) into a decent 3D version of that thing. Over the course of the project, we’ve evaluated all kinds of archived footage. Initial results were disappointing, but once we started looking for material in the right place, we actually discovered a very promising approach.


Farewell Multidrone!

A MultiDrone waits for liftoff, while team-members prepare in the background

For more than three years we learnt how to fly. We flew far and high, but we also had some crashes (fortunately, nobody was hurt). In the H2020 Research and Innovation Action MULTIDRONE, we developed a platform for autonomous drone flights and tested this platform in experimental media productions. Here’s a quick review of the project that was successfully completed with an excellent review in February 2020.

“I believe that drones can be used for good, I believe that they can be transformative” – a video interview with Johnny Miller


Johnny Miller at Deutsche Welle Bonn (photo by Alexander Plaum)

For a long time, drones were a) very expensive and b) almost exclusively used for spying, instilling fear, and killing people. This has significantly changed in recent years. While there’s – naturally – still a massive market for so-called military UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), drone production for the civil sector has increased as well: Several tech companies now offer peaceful flying gadgets that feature high quality propellers and cameras and are available for less than 1000 euros. Simultaneously, drones have become favorite tools for a dedicated scene of journalists, artists, and media innovators all over the world. One of them is Johnny Miller. (more…)

Take me out to the boat race: Experimental drone video production over Wannsee

As part of the research in the MultiDrone Project, one of our consortiums investigates how drones can support journalistic work in an innovative way. The project plan foresees a set of evaluation scenarios due in the third project year, when the custom-made MultiDrone UAVs are ready to fly. In order to gain more experience with hands on drone-cinematography until then, DW has started experimenting with off-the-shelf drones. One of those experiments was the trip to the Meteora region in Greece, in August 2018. There, a DW-team used three drones (Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, Inspire 2) to closely follow two climbers exploring the wonderful mountain peaks in the area.

In October 2018, the project took it a step closer to the actual MultiDrone production scenario: A live rowing regatta. (more…)