Our product Fader has been co-funded by Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI). We (Vragments) have been able to team up with Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle in Bonn and France-based international broadcaster euronews in Lyon to focus on defining user-driven feature requests, testing iterations with journalists and building a solid technical infrastructure to launch a platform for immersive storytelling. Fader is a journalistic product, enabling storytellers to create and publish 360º/VR stories easily and fast.
For more than a year now, the DNI-team has been nothing but supportive, giving us the opportunity to promote our project at various events, connecting us with other teams, always making sure that we are on track by collaboratively setting milestones and giving us the necessary tools to finalize our project. We are looking at a successful outcome and although DNI-funds are coming to an end, we are able to continue to work on our product Fader. And we still have a lot of developments ahead of us!
As more and more users are signing up to create and publish 360º stories, new feature requests are coming in. Our goal is to keep our close relationship with our producers, listening to their requests and responding to them by offering constant Fader updates. Let’s have a quick look back at our DNI-specific project milestones and then we want to meet up with you in Berlin.
The DNI project started out early 2017. By teaming up with two international newsrooms, we are catering to collaborative teams working on 360º-storytelling. Since then, we have had countless project calls with our partners, user testing sessions during workshops, UX and UI iterations and endless hacking sprints with our team of developers. In the beginning, Deutsche Welle and euronews arranged online interviews with dozens of journalists to better understand their needs.
While Germany’s public broadcasters ARD, RBB, WDR, Arte, and ZDF as well as SZ, a newspaper, already offer VR platforms, we wanted to know: What about smaller newsrooms? How can they utilize VR as a new medium without having to invest into too many resources? How can we lower thresholds to help journalists start experimenting with 360º/VR?
As part of the project, we have refined our editor multiple times, added interactive hotspots, we started offering iframe and sharing support for newsrooms. Since Fader is a web-based product, stories can be embedded into websites. That way, immersive stories are easily accessible with a mobile device. Fader stories can also be linked via any social network, allowing journalists to connect with their audiences. Deutsche Welle and euronews then started producing 360º stories with the use of Fader. Also, producers can enhance their 360º/VR stories with spheric text and they can use fonts in individual colors and put them in individual frames. Fader also supports semi-transparent images (alpha channel) and has launched a site where producers can share their stories: Fader Discover.
Immersive 360º-Stories On Fader
Later that year, the consortium published a highly interactive VR advent calendar on Fader and a story on street art in Lisbon is currently accessible on euronews. Also, HAZ’s 360 piece on a massive bunker below Hannover central station is on Fader. On the platform, you can visit a museum in Belarus, and there are two stories about Christiania, the freetown in Copenhagen.
I say all this to say: There is loads of cool content on our platform already and we are delighted to see even further producers coming on board and contributing to a new medium. Right now, a local TV station in Missouri, USA, is testing out Fader and they have published some amazing immersive stories that truly show how 360º/VR can add value to a story.
Fader Events: Come Meet Us At Our Pop-Up Store
Throughout the project, such as INTERACTIVE Festival in Cologne to talk about Fader and immersive storytelling in a keynote. We also got to join a very interesting VR panel and the INTERACTIVE VR cinema, Campfire Festival, , hosted by the EBU within the scope of the Cross Video Days and we went to Medientage in Munich, among other events. We also have organized a VR Pop-Up Week in summer 2017 and over the next two days, you can come to our newest VR Pop-Up Store in the heart of Berlin.