In an innovative approach to get people interested enough to actually watch the news again, CNN’s virtual reality newsgathering and storytelling operation, CNNVR, has recreated a pivotal broadcast in virtual reality, a first of its kind application for VR. So, just what momentous, newsworthy moment is fitting of virtual reality? CNN seems to think it’s the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, an event that was solely broadcasted on live TV by the network on January 28, 1986.
Partnering with the historical virtual reality app Timelooper, CNNVR has traveled back in time to the ‘80s, creating a detailed VR experience and reenactment. To really make the newscast authentic, CNN recreated a version of their studios circa 1986 in order to truly immerse people into one of the most infamous moments in news casting history. With an introduction video from everyone’s favorite silver fox, Anderson Cooper, the CNNVR newscast transports people back to that tragic day.
The network spared no expense in making this VR newscast legit. In addition to the rebuilt, vintage 20-piece set, CNNVR hired 40 actors and a hair, makeup and wardrobe staff to outfit them and give them that unmistakable ’80s aesthetic. Vintage cameras were also employed to lend period-piece credibility, while archival footage from the CNN studio during that live broadcast and staffers who were present in studio during the broadcast as it happened helped lend an undeniable accuracy to this virtual recreation.
This isn’t CNN’s first foray into virtual reality – the cable news titan was the first to live stream a major news event in virtual reality during the Republican and Democratic debates this past Fall. That trailblazing live stream project was lauded for its ambition, no doubt hyping the network up to experiment with virtual reality even more and see where they can take (i.e. the ‘80s). To experience one of the landmark news broadcasts in history, all in immersive virtual reality, head to CNN’s Facebook page or download either the CNN or Timelooper app.