For 173 years The Economist has been known for its world-renowned written analysis and insight on global events. On February 26th 2015, the militant group known as Islamic State posted a video online showing the destruction of antiquities in and around the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq.
The Economist collaborated with Rekrei, a non-profit group formerly known as Project Mosul and Visualise, to create a virtual reality experience, recreating the museum and many of the lost artefacts. The result is “RecoVR Mosul: A collective reconstruction”, which is now available to experience via Google Cardboard apps for Android and iOS and on Facebook and YouTube 360 channels.
Crowdsourcing the reconstruction of lost heritage
The team behind Rekrei, received thousands of crowd-sourced images and archival data of the destroyed artefacts from around the world. Using photogrammetry, they combined the images to create 3D models, with volunteers helping to digitally reconstruct the historical sites and artefacts.
Collecting and reconstructing
In November 2015 The Economist Media Lab was invited to showcase these 3D memories at the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA) in Amsterdam. Following the positive reception from the public and press, The Economist worked with Visualise to rescript the experience with photorealistic CG visualisation and build a new app that will sit within the publications new VR content strategy.
The experience takes the form of a tour of the museum, narrated by The Economist’s deputy editor, Tom Standage, who explains the background to the project, the significance of particular objects and the method of reconstruction.
“In real life it’s no longer possible to visit the Mosul museum or see these destroyed artefacts. But RecoVR:Mosul lets you experience them in virtual reality, with The Economist as your museum guide, explaining the bigger picture. This is our first venture into VR, a medium which offers huge potential for new kinds of storytelling.”
Tom Standage, Deputy Editor at The Economist
We made an impact
The 360 video has received a combined total of 200,000 views on Facebook and YouTube, with 218 comments, 1,200 likes, a reach of 883,261 across Facebook and on Twitter 456 retweets.
The latest version released is now available for Google Cardboard for Android, as an iOS app for use with a Cardboard adaptor, and as 360 videos for YouTube on Facebook.