Oculus Launches VR For Good in High Schools


Two Oculus pilot programs hope to inspire the next generation of VR creators.

We have all seen how virtual reality can change gaming and entertainment forever with this immersive technology. But one thing we love to highlight here at VRScout is how VR can be used for good and drive action to help make this world a better place.

There are creators like RYOT connecting supporters directly to a purpose in VR with their Pencils of Promise experience and Vrse transporting us into a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan through Clouds Over Sidra. Both VR experiences are extremely powerful stories and helped raise higher than projected donations, showing the impact VR can have as a tool to raise awareness for causes in need of a voice.

Usher Pencils of Promise Virtual Reality

Usher ready to try Pencils of Promise VR experience

Now Oculus is rolling out a program of their own to show filmmakers the power of VR and push the boundaries of cinematic VR to tell stories with an impact.

Dubbed VR for Good, the Oculus program launches with two pilots – starting with high school students, rising VR filmmakers, and nonprofit organizations.

360 Filmmakers Challenge for Students

The first program, the 360 Filmmakers Challenge, partners nine San Francisco Bay Area high schools with professional filmmakers to create 3-5 minute 360° films about their communities. Students will receive everything they need to create 360 videos for VR, including a Samsung Gear VR, a Galaxy S6, Ricoh Theta S 360 cameras, access to editing software, and VR film mentors.

Students reviewing their 360 video footage.

Students reviewing their 360 video footage.

Students will learn new technology and production skills while they explore careers and higher education opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). At the end of the six week program, you’ll be able to watch the student videos on Facebook and in Oculus Video.

In picking the Bay Area schools, Oculus considered a variety of factors: notably schools with classes and teachers where such a program would fit, schools Facebook already had some relationship with through existing initiatives, as well as communities that are underrepresented in STEM-related fields.

Filmmaker and Non-Profit Collaboration

The second program, 360 Bootcamp for Nonprofits, kicks off this summer and teams up 10 rising filmmakers with 10 nonprofits to bring a variety of social missions to life through unique 360 videos designed for VR. Teams will start their filmmaking journey at a two-day bootcamp at Facebook HQ, July 26-27. Oculus will supply the film teams with everything they need to create professional 360 videos, including Nokia OZO cameras, post production support, travel budget, and one-on-one mentorship with industry veterans. The first videos will be unveiled at Sundance 2017.

Student from Oakland High School filming his project for the 360 filmmaker challenge.

Student from Oakland High School filming his project for the 360 filmmaker challenge.

For those who would like to participate in the programs, nonprofits can nominate their organizations and filmmakers can apply by May 30 here.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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