Blick launches new digital narrative format: VR-telling

The Blick Group is proud to introduce the next stage of digital storytelling: with the interactive ‘VR-telling’ format, stories can be told in multimedia and 3D formats. The completely new self-developed technology behind it utilises the strengths of each device – mobile, tablet and desktop – and uses audio and VR glasses to carry the viewer off into a virtual world.

The Swiss army needs new fighter jets, and five models are in the running. Blick is showing them in a new format: with VR-telling, the Storytelling team has developed a technology that enables complex stories to be told in virtual reality and offers the user a unique experience on every device. On a desktop, they scroll through from jet to jet, and on a smartphone, they navigate through the 3D world by moving their device. However, the new technology only reveals its full potential with the use of the Cardboard VR platform.

This allows the user to direct the experience themselves and to closely examine the new jets from above and below. All the details are read out to them, with statistics to compare the properties of each aircraft.

‘Thanks to VR-telling, we can explain complex topics in a new way,’ says Katia Murmann, Digital Editor-in-Chief of the Blick Group. ‘The topic of purchasing fighter jets is only one of many possible applications for this exciting technology.’

To the article: Competition for a new fighter jet

Directly in-browser without an app

The idea behind VR-telling is that it optimally utilises the strengths of each device, and everything works in the browser without the need for an additional app. ‘Our readers want to be able to read stories without any extra fuss; they now have to function directly in the browser,’ says Spiridon Petridis, Head of Storytelling. That creates a few challenges for Petridis’ team.

VR-telling uses technologies that are only a few years old and have hardly ever been used in digital publishing. ‘We’re experimenting in an almost entirely new field,’ says Petridis. The 3D world is calculated directly in the browser, each animation requires up to 60 calculations per second, and the application has to be duplicated in the browser for Cardboard.

And in addition to this, every phone and every browser works differently. ‘With VR-telling, we were able to solve this problem. We succeeded in using a code base to produce stories scalable for every device,’ says Petridis.

The Blick Group’s Storytelling team specialises in multimedia implementation and the development of new interactive formats. Under the leadership of Spiridon Petridis, ten journalists, graphic designers and developers work on innovative narrative forms. In March 2018, one of the team’s infographics was honoured with the renowned Award of Excellence from the Society for News Design.

Ringier AG, Corporate Communications