360 Videos in Museums: Shot 2 – In the Field with the Field Museum

At the November Museums and Computer Network conference, I marveled at the different ways museums around the country are using 360 videos with their visitors or in their education programs. To highlights these different applications, I started this limited series of interviews  – same questions, different institution – so we can look for patterns.

Today we turn to Eve Gaus, the Manager of Digital Learning at the The Field Museum (a natural history museum in Chicago with scientists that conduct research on all seven continents). Centered in the Learning Center of the Museum, Eve connects visitors and youth with their collections and research through technology (games, 3D printing, animated video series, and more).

Eve, When did you start exploring 360 video (and if that’s not what you call it, what’s the term round your ways)?

360 video, which we also refer to as immersive video, has been on our radar since late 2016, and in summer 2017 I was green lit  for the project. I was drawn to immersive video because of its rich storytelling capabilities. Since our scientists are carrying out research across the world, and in many cases, in areas that are difficult to travel to, 360 video offers an opportunity to immerse our viewers in our research in a whole new way.

What is the content you are working to put into 360 videos?

We’re using 360 to explore our collections and research in two different ways. The first is by taking our viewers out into the field with our scientists. Our scientists see and experience the diverse beauty of our natural and cultural world, and we want to bring our visitors along on that journey. And, as any of our scientists will tell you, what they collect in the field is just the beginning of the journey, and so the second way we’re using 360 videos is going behind the scenes to capture our collection. We’re creating a story arc for our visitors to walk alongside our scientists as they engage in a process of exploration and discovery.

What goes into obtaining and editing the footage?

When our scientists head out into the field, we equip them with a 360 camera (we’re currently using Garmins and will soon be adding a GoPro to our collection), a couple of extra batteries and SD cards, and some solar charging panels. Before they leave, we sit together and rough out a shot list. Of course, the reason our scientists are in the field is for research purposes, not to capture amazing video content, so we go in with pretty flexible storylines that we can easily adapt.

Taking the footage behind the scenes is a bit easier, but still includes a pre-conversation and a shot list that we co-build with the scientist so we’re all on the same page about what story we’re telling through the footage. We use an Insta360 for our behind-the-scenes footage. After we collect the footage, we work with our scientist and our video editor to craft and edit the story.

Who is the 360 video designed for, and where will they encounter it?

The videos are designed for visitors to the museum (children through adults) and they’ll be able to encounter them in a variety of ways. The videos will be available on The Field’s Youtube channel, and select videos will also be featured in our Grainger Science Hub, a dedicated space in the museum for visitors to meet our scientists, engage with our collections and learn about our latest research.

What are you hoping 360 video will help you or the museum to achieve?

The purpose of the videos is to help connect our visitors with the science of The Field, and also to explore why we conduct the research we do. It is one thing to talk about conservation and the critical importance of biodiversity, but it is another thing altogether to hike through the Solomon Islands, to be on boat going down the Amazon, or to be working alongside communities in Kenya providing rabies vaccinations for dogs — that has transformative power. We hope that through our 360 videos, visitors to the Museum, and even those who may never walk through our doors, feel excited and empowered to embark on a journey of discovery with us.

Do you have any initial findings?

We’re launching in 2018, so will have some findings by spring/summer 2018!

About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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