Aftermath VR: Euromaidan is not “just another Maidan film.”
Please take a look at this truly unique project about Ukraine’s Maidan. The producer is Joseph Sywenkyj, a resident of Kyiv and Connecticut native whom many of us know for his major photojournalism projects – from Chernobyl survivors to the wounded soldiers of the current war in Ukraine. He was awarded the very prestigious W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography in 2014.
“Last year,” Sywenkyj writes, “ the project received a Journalism 360 grant, which is sponsored by Google News Initiative and the Knight Foundation. We just launched a Kickstarter campaign today, as we need more funds to complete the project.” The core team consists of seasoned professionals who themselves experienced and documented the course of the Maidan.
Aftermath VR: Euromaidan is not “just another Maidan film.” As virtual reality, it is a uniquely immersive documentary that literally reconstructs the actual setting where the violence primarily occurred. Viewers physically retrace the same path protesters took as they reclaimed the street from police forces, while exploring the story through archival footage, 360 degree video interviews, and scanned artifacts. “Most of the things that we are working on in the project have never been accomplished before.”
The goals of this project are two-fold. From a technical standpoint, it is designed to demonstrate “new means of telling crucial stories,” and that VR “can be used to educate and increase a viewer’s understanding of an event on a more visceral level than traditional media.”
Secondly, the team feels that this VR project will serve to correct what for some has solidified as a “warped image of what actually happened…The story of the Euromaidan, which was full of dynamic and viciously cruel events, was especially prone to a non-objective portrayal in the media.”
“Despite the fact that numerous professional and citizen journalists documented the shooting, the events of that morning are still besieged by lies and conspiracy theories, including those produced by Russian state controlled media.”
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Why is this project important?
Aftermath VR: Euromaidan utilizes various media to tell an immersive, meaningful and cohesive story that contextualizes the revolution for viewers as they engage with the virtual space where historic events actually happened.
First, we believe Aftermath VR: Euromaidan is a remarkable example for other visual storytellers and documentarians, who are searching for new means of telling crucial stories.
Second, we believe it is important for VR enthusiasts, gamers and developers, who are exploring the new frontiers of this medium. We prove that VR is more than a form of entertainment. It can also be used to educate and increase a viewer’s understanding of an event on a more visceral level than traditional media.
Third, it is imperative for journalists, democracy activists and those who care about human rights issues to learn from our storytelling techniques and use a similar approach to engage with audiences on crucial issues from their region of the world.