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Mobile Virtual Reality Lab

The Mobile Virtual Reality Lab (Hubert Library 156) is a $20,000-project funded by FIU’s School of Communication + Journalism. Beginning in summer 2016, this project provides enhanced digital storytelling opportunities for students and citizens of South Florida. Visit eyesontherise.org/virtualeyes.

Production and Storytelling
In 2016-2017, the MVR Lab, in collaboration with eyesontherise.org, is focused on creating stories for South Florida communities that highlight the effects of sea level rise. In addition to initiatives that will produce stories about Coral Gables’ immigrant communities, the lab will produce:

  • A VR project that introduces users to the interactive and daily experiences of sea level rise, a story that has since been difficult to tell given the “hidden” nature of rising seas in South Florida
  • A VR project that examines the architecture and infrastructure of South Florida related to rising seas to promote public, digital communication about future challenges to our built environment
  • A VR project that shows users potential water height in some areas of South Florida due to rising waters if our geography is absent of massive changes to infrastructure
  • A social media and advertising campaign (also in VR) to engage audiences with access to low-cost VR opportunities to view and interact with the projects

Research and Scholarship
This lab will help students and citizens express their knowledge in ways that include interacting with virtual reality technologies in trade and professional publications, as well as in faculty-led, refereed articles. Questions for both practice and scholarship that students will explore include:

  • To what degree does VR target messages at specific audiences while maintaining a sense of objectivity of the reporting?
  • To what degree can VR enter the voice of the storyteller into the reporting as a means of engagement?
  • How can journalists and strategic communicators use VR to include graphics and text as data points, perhaps including questions and user comments?
  • To what degree does the interjection of self in to VR storytelling guide people to particular messages?
  • What ethical and legal challenges exist in the use of the platforms to report and deliver information?

For more information, email Dr. Robert Gutsche at rgutsche@fiu.edu.

Initial Faculty Involved in Project
Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Ph.D. (Team Lead) Journalism + Media
Use will be in creating VR/3D storytelling for eyesontherise.org and will be included in Journalism Capstone, Digital Theories, Visual Storytelling, and Audience Analysis courses

Elizabeth Marsh, 
Communication
Use will be in Digital Design and/or Digital Practice for Strategic Communication and in collaboration with graduate students in the Miami Ad School program through Trends in Graphic Design

Michael Sheerin, 
Journalism + Media
Use will be in Multimedia Production II and Digital Media Studies Capstone course to produce projects on a variety of topics

Juliet Pinto, Ph.D., 
Journalism + Media
Use will be in the continued establishment of FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus and SCJ as a center for sea level rise communication and environmental study.

Equipment List
We share this list for others interested in creating their own space.

Computer Hardware
2 MacBook Pros
1 PC (Intel Core i5-6500 3.2 processor, 2T drive, 32GB ram, ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Turbo graphics card )
1 PC Laptop
Samsung 40-inch TV and wall mount
2 PC Monitors
2 iPads

Computer & VR Hardware
10 GoPro Hero 4s
360 kit, including 10-GoPro mount, management and stitching software
Samsung Gear 360 Spherical VR Camera
Kodak PixPro
3 Samsung VR headsets
3 Samsung Galaxy S6 phones
5 cardboard viewers
360 underwater mount
HTV Vive headset
Oculus Rift headset

Audi & Video Accessories
2 Sony Stereo Headphones
Panasonic headphone
Blue Snowball USB Microphone
Creative Labs Creative Bluetooth Speaker System
Sennheiser mics kit
Tascam audio recorder
Mobile amplifier and mic
Mobile projector screen and projector

Additional Equipment
GoPro universal smart remote
GoPro rechargeable batteries and chargers
7 conductivity water sensors
4TB external drive
2 Lexar multicard readers and 10 memory cards
Aluratek USB charger
Pelican hard case for fieldwork
4 sandbags
2 Microphone stands
AquaPod mini monopod
2 Manfrotto monopods
Large Manfrotto tripod
30 i>clickers and system
Display easel

Software
Kolor Autopano Video Pro 2
Mettle Skybox
Adobe Creative Cloud

Physical Space
120-square-foot lab with 155-square-foot multi-use space and 130-square-foot control roomMobile computer cart
4 Balt stackable chairs
4 Balt editing chairs
2 16-inch deep folding tables
Floor lamp and floor fan
Whiteboard
Wire shelving and organizational bins
Supplies for marketing and branding

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