The Amsden: Versailles, Ky.

The Amsden is a newly renovated, old time, tavern and bank building, that owner Emily Riddle and her husband purchased in 2017. Riddle and her husband have turned this building into a multi-use space that is occupied by a coffee shop, a mercantile, a yoga studio, bourbon bar and photo studio. Come take a look around the coffee shop and mercantile while listening to Emily tell her story of how the Amsden came to be today.

Photographed and edited by Abbie Long

StoryUP and Our Conversation with Its CEO, Sarah Hill

On Wednesday, April 3, our VR class had the opportunity to Skype with Sarah Hill, former broadcast journalist and current CEO of a company called, “StoryUP,” a VR storytelling-based company. StoryUP is changing minds of VR doubters all across the world by simply taking advantage of this upcoming form of technology to share stories and experiences to those who need them the most.

Hill left her 20-year career in the broadcast journalism world to begin working with the Veterans United Network which lead her to the original mission of StoryUP, to bring Veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial through VR, when they reach the point in their lives where they could no longer physically travel.

“We found that these men and women were having to decline the opportunities to participate in physical honor flights and had to miss the precious opportunity to see the memorial before they passed away,” Hill said.

Hill explained that they used augmented reality through a device called “Google Glass” before they transitioned into using VR.

“We would walk around the WWII Memorial and be the arms and legs for these veterans and we would stream this footage back to veterans that were in nursing homes in their hometowns,” Hill explained.

After Google Glass was no longer being produced, Hill and her team at StoryUP moved their focus to VR journalism, and began their journey working their way into the medical field.

When I first heard Professor Stephenson explain this to us, I didn’t believe it. How could VR find a place within the medical field that’s full of medicine, vaccines, operations, doctors, nurses, etc.?

“In 2016, Dr. Jeff Tarrant and story technologist Sarah Hill started to study whether VR could be compounded to shift brainwave patterns and whether brainwaves could manipulate assets within a VR environment. Together Dr. Tarrant and Hill hold a provisional patent on VR therapy. StoryUP’s stories encompass a variety of forms from meditations to features using technologies including EEG, HRV, BCI, and neurofeedback.” (I’m sorry… what?)

We asked Hil what all of this meant, and if they were seeing any progress with this in 2019. She told us that they refer to the process at StoryUP as “Healium” and that they have massive amounts of scientific proof that this is working for many of its participants.

“Anyone going into journalism should be aware of this future market of creating these experiences that serve a therapeutic purpose,” Hill said. “It impacts their blood pressure, their heart rate, their breathing patterns. StoryUP and our product is a digital media-sudical that attempts to make people feel better.”

She explained that they have created a variety of experiences to help distract people while they’re giving blood, or other painful medical experiences, that is completely controlled by their feelings. This VR product is the world’s first brain computer interface product for mobile VR, and is powered by feeling of positivity, love, joy and appreciation.

She explained that they have created a variety of experiences to help distract people while they’re giving blood, or other painful medical experiences, that is completely controlled by their feelings. This VR product is the world’s first brain computer interface product for mobile VR, and is powered by feeling of positivity, love, joy and appreciation.

“You can put the headband on and are able to control your experience with the feeling of calmness and positivity,” Hill said. “We can put you in a magic snow globe, and as your feelings of positivity go up, the snow flurries start to fly around, and lights come on the screen.”

Hill also explained that users can see their brain’s EEG pattern in the lower part of the screen while participating in these experiences and as their calmness/positive feelings rise, the more they unlock during the experience.

More information supported by physical evidence can be found here.

Could this be just the beginning of VR’s existence within the medical field? As the years pass, I believe that VR will settle within this field nicely and eventually there will be VR headsets provided inside every medical facility for patience’s use.

“With these digital therapeutics you’re essentially giving people the sensation that their thoughts have power,” Hill said.

What do you think? Do you see VR being implemented more within the medical field within the next 5-10 years?

2018 NBA All-Star Game in VR

I heard a statement from a sports fan a few weeks ago that I never thought I would hear in my lifetime. “Why pay thousands of dollars for an NBA ticket when I can watch the game in virtual reality?”

What? I never thought that this aspect of technology would grow into what it is now, and what I’m sure it will turn into something even greater as our society progresses.

My whole life revolves around sports and sports journalism. To me, the opportunities are endless when it comes to the different experiences people can create involving shooting sporting events in VR.

I went into YouTube and typed in, “Sports VR Videos” and low and behold, last March the NBA filmed and produced a nearly 5-minute highlight reel from the NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles (and all of the behind-the-scenes festivities that came with it. The video provided us with special access that we would more than likely never get, (unless you’re on the NBA beat for a major news outlet). This provides die-hard NBA fans an exclusive look at a big weekend for the league without breaking their wallet, which I’m always a fan of.

The video incorporates interviews with players that are participating in the NBA All-Star game, such as: Klay Thompson, Shaquille O’Neal, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell and so many more.

This video did have a beginning, middle and an end. It started out with an establishing shot outside of the Staples Center in LA where all of the festivities were held. We had footage of the participating players arriving to the arena.

Something that I thought was really cool was we saw footage of Shaq walking into the arena and he introduces the event, he then says, “Put your goggles on now,” and then he puts his sunglasses on. Very creative!

We then transition to footage of the players participating in team photoshoots before the three-point contest and we hear from Klay Thompson about he’s feeling before the contest because this is his first time participating in it.

One critique I had for this particular section in the story was that I couldn’t see very well when Klay Thompson was shooting his three’s. I’m not sure if that was something the photographer could have controlled or not, but it would have been nice to be closer to the action. (See picture below)

After that it was time to get ready for the dunk contest. There was footage of a pre-contest interview with Donovan Mitchell (who ended up winning the contest), and then it transitioned into footage of Mitchell’s contest winning dunks. Again, we still had the same issue with not really being able to see Mitchell’s dunks, but the view was better than the three-point contest because this took place closer to the basket.

The video wrapped up with footage from the NBA All-Star game, LeBron James’ team vs. Steph Curry’s team. I personally didn’t think that the footage that took place during the game was the greatest, but I did enjoy the on-court access we saw after James’ team got the win. We also saw James be presented with his MVP award—got to be up close and personal during that, which I’m sure all LeBron fans appreciated.

Overall, I thought this was a good experience and I thought it was appropriate to shoot this in VR, solely because it hadn’t been done before during this particular event. As VR become a more respected creative tool, we will be granted with the same access for 360-cameras as regular cameras.

This was the first 360-degree video that I have seen produced by the NBA. They do have a whole playlist on their YouTube page that is solely 360-degree videos.

If you like the NBA and you like watching videos with a VR headset, then this channel might be worth checking out when you have spare time!

Tour of West 6th Brewery in 360 Video

For our first 360 video assignment, Chelsea Hobbs and I took a tour at West 6th Brewery with co-founder, Brady Barlow. Barlow showed us how all of the West 6th beer goes from just a few ingredients to the final canned product that is distributed and sold all over the state of Kentucky and in some parts of Cincinnati.

Photographed by Chelsea Hobbs

Produced by Abbie Long