By @SimonCocking. Interesting insights with Natalie Whittle Associate Editor, FT Weekend Magazine. Food & Drink Editor who will be speaking at the AR/VR Innovate event in Dublin on May 11th. Tickets still available here.

What are you doing now?

I’m Associate Editor at the Financial Times Weekend Magazine in London, working across print, digital and video production.

How were the last 12 months, what worked well, what didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?

In 2016 I led the second phase of the editorial project-partnership ‘FT Weekend Hidden Cities with Google‘, in which we created insightful and original city guides with FT content and Google Maps technology.

For the second year of Hidden Cities, we wanted to offer more: a new iteration of what Hidden Cities could mean technologically. Google’s Cardboard 360 VR viewer seemed like a brilliant opportunity to venture into a new journalistic area that our peers are just starting to explore, and which was virgin territory for the FT.

With a strategic focus on the Rio Olympic Games and its worldwide media attention, we prepared for a print supplement, microsite update and the release of the FT’s first VR film – The City Within: Life in Rio’s Favelas. This documentary style piece took advantage of Rio’s spectacular vantage points to narrate a story of disparate lives and economies in the Brazilian city, with our correspondent Samantha Pearson reporting in print and narrating the film too. The film was a stunning success on our various platforms – gaining more than 2.8m views on our Facebook feed, where it was uploaded in full 360. This remains the FT’s highest video audience to date.

We continued with a different take for our next city, Dublin, exploring the cultural consequences of the economic crash in a more experimental piece, shot in stereoscopic 3D. With the focus of how crime fiction was inspired by political fallout post 2008, we had the award winning crime writer and Dubliner Tana French as our narrator, and commissioned Dublin based composer Enda Bates to score the film. ‘Dublin in the Dark: The Story of Emerald Noir’ reached 770,000 people within just three days.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to continue to seek out exciting technology partnerships to develop our exploration of new storytelling forms. We have since introduced a short-form video stream produced by FT Weekend Magazine staff.

What will you be talking about at this event?

The Hidden Cities partnership and how VR was incorporated into it/ what we learnt from the experience.

ARVR Innovate returns to Dublin, May 11th

Which influencers and websites do you follow to keep up to date with the latest developments?

TechCrunch, Benedict Evan’s Newsletter, Hollywood Reporter, InPublishing, The Bookseller.


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