#963: “Inside COVID-19”: A Doctor’s Personal Battle with the Virus + Immersive Medical Visualizations

Inside COVID-19 is a new 360 video series that premiered on Oculus TV on Friday, November 20, 2020, and it features Dr. Josiah Child who manages emergency departments at five different hospitals. Dr. Child contracted COVID-19, and this film takes us to the all of the different places of quarantine, hospital rooms, and even inside of his body through immersive medical visualized CT scans and animations of the microscopic SARS-CoV-2 as it goes through it’s entire life cycle. The series focuses on Dr. Child’s journey of facing death, and all of the lessons and perspectives he’s gained after surviving. I found the series helpful translating the abstractions of statistics into someone’s direct experiences, and the surrounding contexts for where they happened.

The series was produced by WisdomVR Project’s Gary Yost and Adam Loften after the production on their previous series was halted due to the pandemic. They have been capturing oral history stories from elders in different communities, and they wanted to carry forward the spirit of this form of honoring elders by focusing on the story of a veteran doctor and his insights into this pandemic.

Inside COVID-19 shows the power of 360 video to immerse the viewer into a very personal journey of contracting COVID-19. VR can take us into the story in a completely new way in both microcosmic and macrocosmic scales. From taking us through the isolation of hospital rooms to 3D visualizations of MRI scans to animations of SARS-CoV-2 fusing in an endosomal membrane to floating above the earth as we reflect on our relationships to each other and the planet as a whole. In the end, Loften & Yost use the immersive medium in a unique way to tell a very powerful personal story that connects us to the deeper challenges we face as humanity that are revealed through this pandemic crisis.


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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic has been the story of 2020. It's shaped all of our lives. And there's been a number of different media that have been starting to cover this. I know that Alex Gibney's Totally Under Control documentary. It's really worth checking out to see how this has been an issue that's been politicized, as well as the failures of the federal government here in the United States. But there's a new 360 video piece called Inside COVID-19 that's available on Oculus and Oculus TV. It's by Adam Loftin and Gary Yost, and they take a different approach of trying to talk about this story. Not only do they feature one doctor and tell his very personal experience with COVID-19, They show these different contexts that he was in, but they also both zoom into the macro scale of trying to show the big picture, but also into the microscopic scale of actually showing the coronavirus going into the epithelial cell and reproducing and really just the full life cycle of this virus. But also, they got a hold of some CT scans and did some interesting medical visualizations. So at the end, they're trying to both tell the external story of this, but also the very internal biological story of what's physically happening. So it's actually quite a lot of really interesting aspects of using the 360 video medium. And also just to even produce anything within the middle of a pandemic is not easy. And so they talk about their challenges of what it means to produce these type of pieces in the middle of a pandemic. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Ways of the VR podcast. So this interview with Adam and Gary happened on Thursday, November 12th, 2020. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:49.661] Adam Loften: My name is Adam Loftin, and I traditionally was a documentary filmmaker, and I started my path into VR with a short experience called Sanctuaries of Silence, where I got to explore a topic that I was interested in around the extinction of quiet places. It was through that experience that I really got hooked on the possibilities of this medium of 360 video and have continued on and got to meet my dear friend and collaborator Gary Yost through that project. And we've now been expanding our experience of creation together in the WisdomVR project.

[00:02:29.364] Gary Yost: So I'm Gary Yost and my background goes back 30 years as the leader of the team who created Autodesk 3ds Max. I have lots of experience in 3D and stereoscopic imaging, and I've been wanting to work in that medium as a filmmaker for a long time. It was only about three years ago when I embarked on a relationship with Kinsen Liu, who's the CEO of Z Cam, as they came out with this new 10-camera array, the V1, that produced enough quality of overlap to produce very comfortable, high quality stereoscopic 360 imagery. And I wanted to do something important with that. And so I embarked on this project to capture cultural wisdom among elders. And that led to my meeting Adam, us forming this 501C3, the Wisdom VR project. you know, with this mission of creating these immersive experiences of elder wisdom. And so here we are today.

[00:03:32.889] Kent Bye: Great. So is the Inside COVID your first piece that you've produced then? And maybe you could, if so, maybe just sort of give the backstory of how this specific piece came about.

[00:03:42.653] Gary Yost: Well, it's our 10th piece that we produced together. We did a series of nine pieces last winter. The first subject in the Wisdom VR project was Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher. I went over to Maui and filmed an experience with him in the year before he died. And then right after he passed, I went back to his house and captured those spaces that he lived in, in kind of a more intentional way. And so that was the inaugural project, and he really set me on the path. And then we did nine other pieces last winter. They're all on our website. And one of them actually was, I think both Adam and my favorite piece, was with a two-spirit Native American woman named L. Frank Manriquez that was ostensibly about re-indigenization or indigenization, which is kind of like a return to Native ways. But it also had a really strong focus on cultural continuity. And we can get into that more in a little bit, but that issue of cultural continuity became kind of a real theme for us. And as the pandemic arose and we were introduced to Josiah Child, it became obvious that that issue of continuity was at play here in a big way. And we'll get into more of that in a little bit.

[00:04:59.133] Adam Loften: Yeah, I mean, it's really been when I met Gary, it's been interesting how VR and 360 video has been just a natural continuity of the work that Gary and I have both been in on our separate paths as storytellers, filmmakers. Most of it has been about some type of environmental conservation, cultural conservation, and then for us to deepen our understanding of how we fit into the places that we live. And so moving through the WisdomVR project has been this playground where we get to identify people that we want to collaborate with and find a way to encapsulate what will be their offering into the future generations through this medium of 360 video. So we kind of approach it as this exploration of if you only had 12 minutes to share your greater truth and understanding of what this life is for you, what would that be? And then how do we bring you back through the places that make you, you? and share this powerful wisdom that everybody holds, but in the spaces that are very connected for them. So L. Frank was just kind of our peak experience because it is alive in all of the natural spaces that Gary and I both love and share in Marin County, California, where we both have made our homes.

[00:06:24.814] Kent Bye: Okay. So that gives a lot more context as to this capturing of elder wisdom, because I sort of see that through line with Inside COVID, but at the same time, the whole topic of COVID is obviously one of the biggest stories of our time. So maybe you could just give a bit more context as to how this specific project of Inside COVID came about.

[00:06:46.543] Adam Loften: Well, I'll start, Gary, and you can finish it. But essentially, we were on our path to continue creating experiences with elders. And when COVID-19 pandemic, you know, crossed everyone's paths, we had to hit pause. And really, the idea of even sitting with any elders felt so risky for them, and for us, potentially, that it was kind of a a scary moment for me personally because I didn't know how we were going to continue on with the project at all until we understood more about what this pandemic was going to become and how we could navigate safely through it. And, you know, Gary is so amazing at creating connections, nourishing these connections. And so people and stories often just find him. And so in the midst of us recalibrating and just hitting pause on our production dreams and trying to figure out what we were going to do next, Gary was introduced to Dr. Josiah Child.

[00:07:48.033] Gary Yost: Yeah. I have a mutual friend who had told me that she had actually told me about him previously before the pandemic, about this amazing doctor who I really needed to meet. And I was so busy with my life that I never got around to it. And then in April, she told me, you know, that guy who I've been trying to get you to meet is now near death's door in the hospital in Santa Fe with COVID. And let's pray for him. So, you know, that was interesting. And when he got better in May, He had to come back out here to one of the hospitals he managed. His first trip back out here, because he manages five emergency departments, four of which are in California and one of which is right here in San Francisco, is actually Seton Medical Center, which Governor Newsom designated as the primary COVID hospital here in San Francisco. And so he was on his first trip back out here, you know, still a little shaky. And my friend Deborah said, hey, let's get together. And I invited Adam down and we sat down with him in my garden and we just talked and, you know, Adam, you could talk a little bit about that meeting.

[00:08:56.089] Adam Loften: Yeah. So Gary had let me know that a little bit about Josiah's story and the possibility of us maybe creating a VR project. And I couldn't really wrap my head around it at all. It just felt like doing production in this new time of COVID sounded daunting. And then the idea of creating a medical story in this time, sounded really scary. But we sat down in Gary's garden and all socially distanced with our masks on outside in the fresh air and just started talking about Josiah's experience. I remember really connecting with him right away. He was the doctor that you wish you could just ask all these questions to on a daily basis. And there he was in front of us. And so we're talking logistics about his story. And I'm thinking about how are we going to create a VR experience of this, a 360 film experience of this. And I've got all these other questions about, well, just like life in general, like how do I stay safe? And is this even possible? But I knew right away that he was a really easy person to speak to about this experience, that he shared it so fluidly. And I really liked how he actually was very open to everybody's layers of paranoia and fear, and had a way of just delivering information that made you feel grounded in the current moment. And so that automatically kind of attracted me to moving forward with this story. But there was a lot to figure out, right, Gary?

[00:10:28.446] Gary Yost: Oh, yeah. Well, we really know what the story was at that time. We knew that there was something important to share there. And we were attracted towards, you know, the nature of the zeitgeist in it. It just seemed the most relevant thing we could do. And I had a lot of personal history in medicine. I was born without a spleen, and so I had a lot of autoimmune disorders myself growing up, and I also had pulmonary embolisms at one point a while back. A lot of things that I kind of shared with Josiah, you know, because of all of his lung stuff. And I was just fascinated with his positive attitude and the way he survived. And it kind of got me through some of the fears that I had just being around him. It was just really comforting to me. And, you know, we left that meeting and Adam and I started kind of working up a plan. And then we found out that we would have access to Josiah's CT scans. And we might have a way to do 3D visualizations of those to kind of go inside of his body. And once I started thinking like, oh, this could be more than just a story of the outer self, but it can also be a story of the inner self. And I did a bunch of research and found these amazing people who have a company called Surgical Theater, three ex-Israeli fighter pilots who founded a company to do visualization of DICOM CT data in the surgical theater, literally, where the doctor has a little probe that he puts inside the excised tumor area. And the engineer in the other part of the surgery has a headset on, has a rift on, and can tell the doctor that, no, you haven't gotten the whole margin of that tumor there. And actually, these are people you could have on your show, they'd be really interested. It's a fascinating thing. So I contacted them and I said, you know, I've got this DICOM data, and do you think you could help us visualize it? And they were into it. And then I thought, okay, you know, this is a story of the man, it's a story of inside of his body. Now, this is starting to get really interesting.

[00:12:39.413] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I watched your piece inside COVID. And then just last night, I watched Alex Gibney's Totally Under Control documentary, which is like a two hour deep dive into the whole larger geopolitical coverage of this. And the thing that I really appreciate about your piece after watching it again, was that it's really like a first person phenomenological account in these rooms, in these places, in these contexts that really, for me, helps paint a picture of this journey that he went on and going inside of his body and seeing the different medical visualizations. It was a different approach, I guess, when you think about this issue and how big of an issue this is. and how you can start to maybe start to attack the universal macroscopic dimension of the story by focusing on a very personal story and then just trace that story and trust that through that telling his journey, that you're able to touch on a lot of these other bigger topics. And so it was interesting to watch both of those back to back of more of the, from the bottom up of a individual perspective versus the top down geopolitical perspective of it. But I imagine that it took some time to get to that point in terms of finding what the through line of that narrative actually was. And so I'm just curious to hear you talk a little bit about what you saw the affordance of this medium was and how you could tell maybe a different story than what other people are going to be telling about this in a 2D medium.

[00:14:10.668] Adam Loften: Sure. You know, I mean, that is always the question being that we're both 2D and 3D 360 filmmakers. Why are we telling this story? Why are we sharing this story in 360 video? Because boy, it is not easy. So why do it this way? And once we make the decision that we believe a story will work within this medium, we want to do everything that we can to leverage the medium in a way that really gives it the most powerful emotional impact for the audience. And for us, kind of what I alluded to before is hearing people's heartfelt connections to their lives, to their feelings, to their ideas in the spaces where they are authentically coming from or experiences have happened is a really immediate way for us to directly connect with their experiences and stories. And the environments themselves bring us into and kind of fill in the gaps of the feeling and help us suspend our disbeliefs when it comes to going back in time, which is all that we can often do as documentary filmmakers when we're not catching something that is occurring in the moment. And so when we made the decision to tell this story, we had to really figure out what were going to be the spaces that we could actually share the story in and how we were going to go about it. Josiah, in that first meeting in the garden, said, well, you've got to come to New Mexico. And I'm thinking, I've got to get on a plane and go to New Mexico and figure out. I've got to stay with somebody there. There's so many moments. Yeah, go ahead.

[00:15:43.526] Gary Yost: And I'm thinking, I am not going on a plane, and I am not going to New Mexico.

[00:15:48.773] Adam Loften: And I'm thinking, I don't want to go do this without Gary. You know, we go out into the field and we are a very strong team and we really depend on each other. And the idea of having to go into hospitals alone or go travel to these other environments alone was pretty daunting early on. But what we kept doing together was coming back and trying to understand the importance of sharing his firsthand story and how we could best do that. And then as we stepped slowly into it, kind of like dipped our toes in, Josiah was the one who actually helped us feel safe in doing so. So I handled the bulk of the production sometimes on my own. Gary was also with me at times as we felt safer, but the first experience was going into the Seton hospital emergency department by myself with the 360 camera and the audio kit and not really any kind of plan and just trying to be in there on an evening shift and see what happened. And. That actually was a profound turning point for me as far as my ability to feel safe in moving forward with the production. I've come to think of the personal protective equipment kind of like scuba gear. Once you understand the way everything works, how you might get into trouble, Essentially, if you follow all the rules, you can walk into any space and probably walk out and be just fine. Now, there's always chances within all of that. And I knew that there were certain risks that we might be taking. But in that process, I began to feel really safe. And that feeling has actually stayed with me, but not out of any kind of cavalier style that the virus can't touch me, just in that I know how to use the gear in order to be safe. And I wish other people could have that experience too.

[00:17:38.522] Gary Yost: And I want to get back to your question, Kent, about what this medium brings to the process a little bit. And I was just thinking about that while Adam was talking. And these numbers that come out, 140,000 people today were added to the confirmed infected list. And they're just numbers. And very few of us really know any people who have been infected, or even fewer of us know people who've gotten very, very ill or have even died. And, you know, the overarching goal for the project was to give people in the headset, like, an experience as if a family member or a very close friend had been going through this. And, you know, the cliche of the headset being an empathy machine, you know, going back to Chris Milks and Gabor Rohrer's early work, kind of, you know, it's really true. There's a kind of authenticity that a 360 camera can capture in a scene that the highly mediated 16 by 9 frame that Alex Gibney uses, for example, is totally different. Like, you can't hide. And so, you know, there's no place to hide from the virus. There's no place to hide from the camera. When you're in the headset, you're very emotionally engaged with this family. And I don't think that any other medium could have produced the kind of feelings that come up when you are in this experience.

[00:19:12.243] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think as I was watching it, and when the main protagonist, Josiah, says that he contracted the virus, and that that's the cliffhanger to the first episode, and then you go into the second, that was, to me, it was an interesting turn that I was like, okay, wow, now this is starting to get really into it here. Like, where is this gonna go? And I felt like at the end of each of the chapters, it had a similar kind of like, how is this story gonna unfold into this next chapter? And to be able to be taken into his home, sitting on the couch, where he likely even got transmitted with his son, and then, you know, into these different hospital rooms, getting the MRI scan, and, you know, just each of these different places, I think, just helped to ground this story that he went through into a very real context that I can sort of imagine certain things, but to hear him talk about this isolated feeling and dealing with hospital bureaucracy as he's sitting in this hospital room and he's like in the gown and he's there, there's something about being able to put people in those contexts and to just record them and to really take people there that I don't know, I just think it helps really ground the story into that context and helps take me into that whole journey that he went through. And as I watched the whole deeper political aspects and Alex Gibney's totally under control, I don't have that same feeling of being taken on that individual journey. Everything does get abstracted out into the numbers. And to really take it back to that personal experiences and his moments of confronting death and having to isolate in his room and just all the different things of being driven to the hospital by his wife or whatever it was, I think that there was something about the 360 video medium that allows you to tap into these deeper contexts. And then even when you're in those contexts, and as you're sharing sort of an oral history, because he's telling the story of this, I think being in those environments helps to draw back all these additional memories. So I don't know how you were able to then really craft it if it was like, you would just record it and see what happened because it seemed to have like a pretty consistent narrative flow. I don't know, but it was also very tight of like, you know, this is like if it was scripted or how you came out to have the continuity throughout this, this entire piece and how you were able to really, you know, if it was all scripted out or if it was like, you just get into the place and see what arises.

[00:21:40.138] Adam Loften: Yeah. So this is what we've been figuring out, Gary and I, and we had 10 experiences that we created with the WisdomVR project in order to start to refine. How do you share a concise story in a medium where you can't just cut up somebody's words and throw visuals over and still have an emotional first-person impactful share? So we found that actually you have to script things out in a way where we create these little feeling and story. They're almost like chapters as opposed to each shot because we think of them as these little thought chapters. And we figure out the order of visuals that we believe will be the most powerful. And we workshopped this story for a long time, Gary and I. Well, for us, it was a long time. Usually we're flying through these processes pretty fast with individuals.

[00:22:31.765] Gary Yost: It was about a month of workshopping it heavily with Josiah.

[00:22:35.733] Adam Loften: And we had actually originally, I don't want to give too much backstory, but locked ourselves into this idea of four chapters. And we were actually taking a much higher level of approach where we wanted to bring in a lot more of a global perspective and share more information. But it actually was crowding out Josiah's story. And thankfully, Gary's friend and collaborator Howard Rose, shout out to Howard Rose. So Howard, who I had never met before, came in and he had all these ideas of what we were doing wrong. And it was so great to hear them because we knew all these pieces of the story, but we didn't really necessarily understand how they should all go together. So we kind of in the last week, we took and we just remixed our whole theory of the evolution of the story. and came up with a whole new game plan. And then that served as an outline. And then along the way, we figured it out in the moments. We knew where we were going. And so it was highly improvisational when it came to the moments in which Josiah is sharing the content on camera directly to the audience. but we knew the story points that we were moving through. And that has been a really fun and exciting experience. To also still be able to change it later after the fact, like we were not totally locked into our script and find new ways that we didn't realize we were repeating ourselves or where we could insert other ideas. And at the very last minute, I mean, we were putting in, we use quite a bit of news media to share key story points throughout the pandemic. And so I think, what was it? November 5th, Gary, was our last- Last day, yeah. last day, we finally had to call it quits. Sadly, the news has just been getting worse and worse when it comes to the rising cases.

[00:24:25.286] Gary Yost: Adam, I need to interrupt you because you kind of blew past this issue of kind of like we come up with these ideas and it was very improvisational, but reality is that Adam's a brilliant director And we would absolutely know exactly what that chapter was supposed to be about conceptually, and we would talk it through meeting after meeting on Zoom calls with Josiah and his wife. But when it comes down to when the camera's rolling, and this is 10 cameras with a lot of data, and we have to be a little bit judicious and efficient, right? And so when it comes down to actually getting the performance that conveys the feeling and the emotion that you felt when you were in the headset watching this, that is Adam's brilliance. And I've been learning so much about directing from Adam over the last year. I mean, he's been my greatest teacher. And the difficulty in creating a reenactment that has this feeling of deep authenticity to it is profound. I mean, Errol Morris is really good at this. Joderecki, Andrew Joderecki with the Jinx, he's really good at this. And, you know, those are the people that I really respect. I mean, Morris is, to me, you know, the god of documentary filmmaking. And so that's our bar for these things. And it's only because of Adam's directing that we're able to reach that bar.

[00:25:53.712] Kent Bye: Yeah, as I was watching it, there's certainly some scenes that felt like it was like they were following a script because it was like, okay, people don't usually tell stories like this, you know, when the fan was on the couch and they're kind of like jumping in, it was like so short and pithy. And I was like, okay, either they did a million takes or they had it kind of planned out a little bit here. But there was also this moment, you know, I watched through it once and watched through it twice, having known where the story goes. But there was still this moment when I first started watching it where I was like, okay, you have a date there. That's at the bottom. And then I'm seeing footage. And my first assumption is like, wow, they were like on top of this and like shooting this stuff as it's happening. And then there was one moment when they were talking and the timeline was around March. And I looked to the left and it says like, Oh, you saw that. September or something. And I'm like, okay, the monitor. Yeah. So like, okay, there's some tells here that like, this is not actually like going back to shooting, including, but I guess that's a deeper, I guess, the line between the reenactment and the documentary and the ethics around. Cause there's a part of me that wants every shot that you're saying, okay, this is the date. And when this is happening, I want it to be that date. Cause I want it to be like, okay, this is an accurate historical record, but obviously, in order to tell the story that you're telling, you didn't even start until like after May. And so you're starting back in January. So just curious how you navigate this, because for me, it was confusing at first, and I was able to sort of use my own media literacy to kind of like, okay, this is all sort of reconstructed and kind of reacted. But there's also parts that I still don't know, like, is this shot was actually shot on that day or not? Because it is, it is a very interesting historical time period. And so how do you annotate that? Or how do you navigate this reconstruction reenactment ethics when you do pieces like this?

[00:27:44.926] Gary Yost: Great question.

[00:27:46.186] Adam Loften: Yeah.

[00:27:47.347] Gary Yost: It's a hybrid narrative documentary. That's the first answer is that obviously, we couldn't be there when all this happened. And so we do our best to bring in the feeling of what happened, the authentic feeling of what happened. And, you know, we hope that we're forgiven for our, you know, playing with time a little bit, you know, but that's, that's what the medium is for really. It's to take you someplace where you couldn't have gone. you know, in a way that maybe is deeper and, you know, makes more sense than if it was when it actually happened, you know, in the chaos of the moment. It's a distillation of the experience. You know, we take the viewer in the headset's time very seriously. I mean, when someone puts a headset on, they're giving us 100% of their auditory and visual attention. I mean, I don't have to tell you, this is a very special medium. There's no other medium like it. And so we consider the time the viewer puts into the headset as sacred time, where they're giving us everything. And so we have to give them back something that's worthwhile. It's worth their precious time. They're not getting those minutes that they're in the headset back. And so in order to do that, we have to create an experience that's kind of hyper real and give them something where they really feel like they've gone somewhere. And you can't really do that in a headset with a documentary that's shot in real time, you know? But, you know, I considered comping out the date on that monitor in the hospital many times throughout the whole thing. I mean, you can imagine all the post-production that went into this thing. And I would look at that monitor And it would have only taken me a half an hour to get rid of that date. And every time I'd look at it, I go like, you know, I'm leaving it in. And you saw it. I'm very impressed.

[00:29:42.817] Adam Loften: Well, and this is an interesting conversation about, I mean, especially if we speak about what are the ethics of it from storytelling. I mean, we're not journalists, we're storytellers. And it was important for us to bring people back through the pandemic. And the experience of the pandemic started early for some. People were watching the news early on, seeing what was happening in Wuhan, China, getting worried. I know that was the experience of my family and myself on our couch, wondering if we would come this way. My dear partner, who is always tapped into the emotion of the world, was pretty clear that things were going to change. And I didn't want to believe that it was coming. And yet it arrived. And some people didn't want to believe it until the NBA decided that they were shutting down their season. And others didn't want to believe it until they were told to stay home from work. And so we're kind of picking up at the beginning of the pandemic and hopefully as you're suspending your disbelief on that journey, you do realize there's some pretty serious cues that tell you that this is not all happening in real time and this is not all happening in real spaces. I remember this story about a cinematographer trying to always figure out where the light was coming from for motivation and gaffer wanting to place lights in different places. And he says, but what's the motivation for it? Where's it coming from? And he says, the same place the music is coming from. And that's for us is the same thing. I mean, we think it's more important to go on an emotional journey than be journalistically rigorous about timeframes and all of that. And hopefully we don't upset anybody or harm anybody along the way. I don't think we will.

[00:31:17.385] Kent Bye: No, I think after the first episode, I think for me, it was clear, certainly, that, okay, this is clearly, like, he's already recovered from this, because he does switch tenses to say, you know, that's when he contracted COVID. It's not in real time. And so, it's just when I re-watched the first episode again, there was a moment where he's in the car and he's like, okay, it's March 20th or whatever it is. And it's like, he's talking, like, he's saying the present tense, and so, it's sort of like a reconstruction and it's like the whole timeline. And so you kind of get this conceit that it's written in real time. And so, I don't know, it was just sort of like that, how to really inform people, because even then, as I'm like rewatching it, I'm like, okay, they're saying that this is this date, but now I don't trust anything anymore. And it was like, I want to be like, okay, when things are really shut down, there's a part of me that wants to know, okay, about that, this is what this looked like when it was a ghost town in the city, you know, that it was this date when that was shot. And so for me doing a lot of oral history, the sort of historian part of me that wants to know, okay, like when do they actually shoot this? Because that may actually be historically interesting to someone in the future, which we have no idea what they may be noticing anthropologically or whatever. I understand the trade-offs there. It's just, you know, how to navigate that if this is just part of the medium. And this is a part of ways that people kind of figure it out in just the ways that people like Errol Morris is starting to do like reconstructions. And I think this conversation doesn't start with this. This goes back to a lot of the blue line that Errol Morris was doing different reconstructions. And then there was a big uproar in terms of like, is this documentary, is it narrative? And when you start to blur these things together.

[00:32:54.816] Gary Yost: Yeah, it helps to look at our piece through the Errol Morris lens.

[00:33:00.844] Adam Loften: And it's great to hear it through your lens because we as storytellers are filling in all of the little blanks and we basically are convincing ourselves that this is the best way to do it and that it all works and makes sense. And that's how we know that we can call it done and fall in love with it. But I love to have somebody else's impression completely shatter the illusion of it all making sense in the way that I think it does. So now I can't wait to go back and look at it with your thoughts in mind. And I never noticed that date on the screen.

[00:33:30.672] Gary Yost: I never mentioned it to you.

[00:33:33.897] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I think by the time the end of the first episode where he starts to say, okay, the reveal where he's, he talks about him actually getting it. And then that's what you start to dive into. I think it, you know, from a narrative perspective, it definitely pays off. It's just something that I think about as we move forward as this medium, what's the real, what's the reconstruction, what's the reenactment. You know, cause in a lot of times in documentaries, they'll actually disclose like this is a reenactment or this is footage that is not actual footage, you know, we'll have a little disclaimer or whatever, just to help the audience kind of navigate in their mind, whether or not they're watching some actual documentary evidence of something, or if something that's been digitally recreated in some fashion.

[00:34:13.172] Adam Loften: And I think it's a great point to bring up, because as we are moving into the future, and there's so much media out there, and people are creating foundational ideas based off of something that they watched, to not understand whether it was a recreation or real footage is very important to make clear. So I appreciate you bringing it up.

[00:34:34.580] Kent Bye: Yeah, I wanted to dive into the medical visualizations because I think this is also something that you obviously put in a lot of work. I don't know if I've actually seen a whole spatialized animation of like a little coronavirus going in and doing whatever it's doing there. So maybe you could talk about that process because I think that going down in that micro scale helped to really connect to what these individual virus particles are doing and how you thought that that was kind of adding into this overall story.

[00:35:04.556] Gary Yost: Right. Yeah, well, that's that was kind of my area in the film. So, you know, we had we had this chest footage and we were going to do this visualization of his lungs and And then I had noticed that the first 3D visualization of the Viron was done by a team at CDC Medical Illustration Department by Dan Higgins and Alyssa Eckert. And it was done with 3DS Max, which was the software that I was responsible for. And I thought that was kind of cool. And I started thinking, hmm, we could do that. That'd be interesting. And I had an old friend who had been a beta tester of mine 27 years ago, back when I was doing all that stuff, and he had just moved into my town. He had spent 10 years doing scientific visualizations for Nat Geo and Discovery Channel, and was now raising two teenage daughters as kind of a house husband, you know, and I had just gotten together with him in January and, you know, he was complaining a little bit about how he was kind of bored, not doing anything really creative. And so I was looking at the Viron and I was thinking about, you know, 3ds Max and I was remembering Andy Murdoch telling me that he was a little bit bored and I gave him a call. I said, hey, you know, I think we have a shot at doing visualization of the entire life cycle of the virus inside one of our epithelial cells. And he just said, great, sign me up. And, you know, we started to get into it and, you know, we're rendering everything at a very high resolution. We're feature proofing this. And we actually at the time thought The Oculus Quest was going to be launching with a higher resolution than it ended up. So in stereoscopic movie playback, you can only do 6K. But we thought it was going to have 7K capability. And the XR2 chip does actually support that, but the Quest isn't set up to do that right now. So we said, OK, we're going to do all this stuff in 7K, and that's a 49 megapixel file. And in the old days, we'd been rendering to HD, and that's 2 megapixels. scenes that are 25 times bigger than an HD frame. And that's kind of daunting, you know. And so Andy and I started looking around at the tools. And actually, he'd been telling me about some pretty amazing new developments in 3D from a company called Chaos Group with a renderer called V-Ray. And they have a shader that creates huge amounts of complexity without making geometry. And then there's another package that does particle animation called Tiflo by Tyson. I forget Tyson's last name. It's kind of a miraculous piece of software. So these tools had just shown up in the last few months. And Andy started showing me. He said, look, I can create scenes with the apparent complexity of billions of polygons, but I can do it mostly all with shaders. And yeah, the cells are so complex. The only way we could do this is with shaders. We couldn't do it with geometry. So we started doing all these tests, and then we started doing research into what really happens when you inhale one of these virulins. And I contacted Alyssa Eckert at the CDC. And we talked a little bit about, well, how does the viron get into the cell? And she gave me some tips and she introduced me to the work of David Goodsell. And I can send you a link to that. And he's an artist with the Center for Computational Biology, very famous in the world of molecular biology. And so we had seen tons of other research and this is now in July. And good cells work made it all come together for us. And then first glance, you look at one of his paintings and it's so complex that it just looks like a pattern. But then you dive in and realize, you know, that the cytoplasm inside the cell is really complex, but he makes it possible to understand it. So he, through his work, we understood the process of endocytosis, where the Viron is absorbed into this phospholipid bilayer membrane and it comes into the cell and it releases its RNA through this process of invagination. And then these ribosomes come up from the endoplasmic reticulum and they transcribe new proteins. and those proteins migrate back up to the cell membrane. And when we realized that the way the new virons are formed was when the RNA, the newly transcribed RNA forms a capsid that pushes against the outer layer of the cell membrane, and then those migrated proteins become this new viron vesicle through this pressure that the RNA pushes through, it kind of blew our mind. And so we basically animated Good Sells paintings in a simple way. We had to do it in such a way that a layperson, the general public, could totally get it and understand exactly what was happening. And it's a very complicated process. So I think what I took away from it is this amazing respect for the beauty of nature. And I was talking with Adam about this earlier today. I don't know if you read the book, I Contain Multitudes. It's about our biome, our overall biome. And I'm sure you're aware of the fact that we're only 10, 15% endogenous human cells. And the rest of the cells that are alive on us are bacteria, viruses, fungi. And that's an abstract thing. But when you actually see how these cells work together, you look inside the cell in the headset, you'll see mitochondria down there by the nucleus. I mean, you can even see chromosomes inside the nucleus. You can tell it's a girl cell, actually. Not a boy cell, because there's no Y chromosomes. But we're not really that human. We're only 10% human. And seeing that being inside the cell, you've got the headset on, and you're in the cytoplasm right there with this miracle of life, watching the ribosomes transcribe these new proteins. And it's the most beautiful and amazing thing. And of course, the outcome could be death, but that's part of life. And so this part of the story, it became more and more important to me personally.

[00:41:04.789] Kent Bye: Yeah. I think for me, it just helped, you know, one of the strengths of VR is to be able to change scales in that way. And you go from seeing the earth and then going down into the tiny, you know, it reminds me of the powers of 10, as you're going through all these different scales, you're not like zooming in and zooming out, but you're at least jumping in between these different scales at the beginning and then going at this microscopic. And then at the end, you go back to the earth where you have these little particles that are floating there. And you're really, as I watched it again, you know, there's a lot of the chapter four is really trying to bring it out into this larger global context of everything. And watching it the second time, I was able to get a lot of the details because it was a lot of the audio that's being transmitted there. A lot of the up to that point, a lot of what your story is, is through these very concrete visual embodied metaphors. And then once you get to that last chapter, then it starts to get a little bit more abstracted and more poetic, I'd say. And then, you know, you're trying to like really fit in a lot of things that are happening there with this. And that last bit was pulling in clips from Dr. Fauci and, you know, just talking about the role of the CDC and the larger, Hey, let's wear masks. And, you know, we're all on this planet and, There's a lot of like bigger thing that you're trying to like tie this as much as you can go into the biggest context that you can and tie up all the loose ends. So yeah, I'm just curious, that last episode seemed to be of all the different ones, the one that was probably the least clear in terms of how you would sort of tie in all these other aspects. And why did you decide to kind of focus in on the earth as you're floating away, as you're talking about all the other stuff that's happening on the planet right now?

[00:42:41.646] Adam Loften: Yeah, it's a great question of why. I mean, in the powers of 10, I mean, I think that is what led us to the earth. Actually, what really led me to the Earth is I created a traditional documentary film with a great director, Emanuel Vonley, who I've also done some VR pieces with, called Earthrise. And it was the story of the Apollo 8 astronauts actually leaving Earth for the first time and seeing the Earth as a whole, and then eventually seeing the Earth as a whole from a whole other planetary body. and the perspective that that shared with all of humanity, and it changed us forever. That was known as the Earthrise moment, and I think we're kind of in another Earthrise moment right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. for our generation. This pandemic is really helping us see how interconnected our world is and that our false boundaries do not stop any kind of spread of disease or of economic uncertainties. And as we are reaching an existential climate crisis, It's a little bit of a preview of how we can create resiliency and come together as not only a nation, but as a world in order to respond to something that is so abstract and so much bigger than us that we won't be able to use any simple solution or technology or single technology in order to overcome it. And at that point in feeling into it, there seemed to be no other choice than to go to the earth. It's become a bit cliche, but in a headset, I still think it has a unique, powerful perspective that people haven't seen before. And so I've been getting glimpses of the overview effect through the COVID-19 pandemic. And I'm hoping that this last chapter, the way that we try and tie everything together, will give somebody else that experience as well.

[00:44:39.743] Gary Yost: I'll just add one little thing. So, you know, we kind of have two endings. And I don't want to give anything really away. But I mean, we are having a discussion about it. So, you know, we go to that poetic overview effect place, but then we bring it right back down to earth into Josiah's experience where he talks about How you know what he really learned from the pandemic is how he's standing on the shoulders of those before him and that he hopes to be there for our descendants, our children and our children's children and and maybe that's the lesson of the pandemic right is that we're the ones who have to step up and either now or you know or later and It's like seven generations, you know, it's the acknowledgement that we're part of a lineage. And it's an acknowledgement that if we're selfish, the lineage won't continue. And in a lot of ways, I feel like this film is mostly about that. It's mostly about how it's our responsibility to step up and take that role of protecting our children and the rest of our descendants.

[00:45:48.483] Kent Bye: Yeah, and you know, as I was watching this, and just sort of reflecting on the power of VR, and I think I was doing a bit of brainstorm in terms of other ways in which that the medium of VR could help with a pandemic, because I think there's, there's a part of the research and the guidelines from the CDC that are trying to paint out, like, here are the guidelines in these different contexts. I think one of the things that VR does really well is just to actually put you into those different contexts. And I would love to see somebody out there create a VR piece where it's like, okay, here are the top 10 common contexts in which that COVID-19 transmission happens, like in a bar or in close proximity, and just put me into a place with the spatial relationships. And so I think part of what happens is that people do have this sense of false security where you're outside, not everybody in the park is wearing a mask. Some people are wearing a mask, you know, when you're in close proximity, you know, like what are the, what's the threat? And this is something that is continually evolving and changing. And so it may be something that would potentially have to be updated fairly frequently, but I think it would just help people identify, okay, this is a context, even though everybody else is not doing this, you know, you have to sometimes go against the peer pressure of the collective and that there's a part of this whole dynamic of, as Thanksgiving is coming up and as the COVID starts to have uncontrolled spread across the United States, are we still going to be traveling across the country and just meeting with our family and having this false sense of security? And so, yeah, I guess that was the thing that I was really also taking away. And it wasn't something that you were specifically even trying to do here in this space. The thing I'm talking about here is a completely different piece, which is like trying to translate the public health guidelines into an immersive experience that helps people really understand how to behave and how to change their behaviors and to show the most risky things that you could be doing so that when people are in those situations, they'll be able to like remember, oh yeah, this is a situation where I should be really putting on my mask. Like when I take a walk in the morning, when I'm walking by other people in the park, put my mask on, but if it's just me and my wife walking down the street and there's no one else around, then we don't have our masks on. We kind of like contact switch and we kind of socially distance and cross the streets, you know, not knowing if somebody like runs by us, are we at risk if we're in those situations? And so it's sort of like trying to really give those types of visualizations to really help people connect the dots in terms of where we're most at risk of getting spread.

[00:48:20.714] Gary Yost: So the Center for Disease Control has a VR group in its illustration department, and I'd be happy to connect you with them. I think they mostly do in-house training, but boy, I think it's a great idea, and I think they ought to do it.

[00:48:37.517] Adam Loften: You know, it's interesting to hear that we all have some layer of confusion and contradiction around the protocols to keep us safe during the pandemic. And in the film, Josiah shares a line how we have to create this almost religious-like culture around masking and social distancing, not because it's needed all the time, but that we have to actually overcompensate in order to create any kind of real change in shifting the pandemic. And that is the hardest part, I think, for everyone, because that overcompensation actually means some kind of sacrifice, whether that's for your own personal enjoyment. Some people see it as a personal freedom. And from the early days of the pandemic, I was just kind of musing about why it is that some cultures, some nations have been able to collectively come together. And I thought, well, maybe it's because they've practiced in Asia during other pandemics. Maybe it's because there's a little bit more of an authoritarian culture or innately collectivist culture. And I was talking with Josiah about this, and he actually clued me into that he thought that it was because certain cultures respect and honor their elders more than others. And they actually see that the memories of those elders are invaluable. And in New Mexico, where Josiah lives in Santa Fe and where we were filming, when you drove by the indigenous lands, the indigenous nations of the Pueblos, they were shut down. They were shut off from the rest of the world. The extent of the death and suffering that is caused by a viral pandemic, that memory had not faded within those communities. It was still fresh from colonization. And the repercussions of that are still very much alive in those communities today in the forms of cultural loss that is continuing on a daily basis. And now the elders that are in those communities, just a handful of them often hold the entire fluency of a language, the entire religious rights of their culture, or the ancestral skills and arts that are alive. And they're actively trying to communicate that in this one-to-one sharing transmission experience to the youngest generation that we see as being the most risky right now. And they are so vulnerable that if one of them is lost, some parts of that culture may never be able to survive that loss. And so if we could place the memories of our elders, the memories of our parents, of our grandparents, in that kind of regard, the pieces that they held and what they have yet to share with us, then I think it would actually shift a lot of people's behavior into overcompensating and trying to save as many people as possible during this pandemic.

[00:51:34.186] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's beautiful. Yeah, thanks for that. And I do think that there is that overcompensation and then people have this whole other aspect of the polarization of the masking, which you didn't necessarily dive into deeply here, but Alex Gibney gets into a lot more and the Totally Under Control documentary, but Yeah. It's a paradox because there's people that aren't doing the bare minimum that they need to do in the most highly contagious environments, which puts other people at risk, which then, you know, it is the elders and the people over a certain age that are the most at risk. And the people who are young or doing the risky behavior and want to express their freedoms are not necessarily connecting the dots between how the virus can spread and to reach the people who are the most vulnerable. So yeah, I think having this dialectic between the individual and the collective, but also as a culture, as a community, how do we achieve this state where everybody's doing at least the bare minimum, the most risky situations. And this could be a deeper issue that goes back to like the political leadership of our country that has actively been putting forth disinformation or politicizing this issue in a way that has caused a lot of public health harm, which has to be undone in some way. And how to undo that is something that I think we're all trying to figure out.

[00:52:49.489] Adam Loften: Yeah, Dr. Josiah would say in this moment that politicians should not deliver public health messaging. because you're going to polarize one side or the other, depending on who that politician is. And so if we can find the trust that he finds in the elders of medicine and listen to what their leading guidance is on a daily basis, then we actually have a chance of getting on the same page.

[00:53:14.773] Kent Bye: That gives me hope.

[00:53:18.174] Gary Yost: Maybe we'll hear more from Dr. Fauci next year.

[00:53:20.998] Kent Bye: Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. Well, just to kind of wrap things up here, I'm just curious what each of you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality might be and what it might be able to enable.

[00:53:32.851] Gary Yost: Oh, right. I knew you were going to ask this question. I should have prepared for that.

[00:53:36.695] Adam Loften: You want to go first or second?

[00:53:39.017] Gary Yost: Oh, let me go second.

[00:53:44.246] Adam Loften: For me, I think right now, I'll speak to 360 video because I think that is the medium that I'm really working in, which is a lot of debate about how VR 360 video is. But creating this stereoscopic 360 memory of a moment and a connection of a moment beyond being able to share it with an audience right now, I think, is the highest potential of this medium. I think back to all of these elders that we lost and that we have now memorialized in their writings, in what few photographs we have of them, what audio recordings we have of them, people like Martin Luther King. I mean, imagine being able to sit in his study and look around at his bookshelves and what's on his desk as he talks about the cosmology of social justice. And what would it mean to be able to go back to that? And we have the opportunity with this medium right now to actually preserve a lot of different people and a lot of different spaces. And so one of the things that the Wisdom VR Project has set out to do, and we will get back on our path as soon as the pandemic has subsided, is to enable people that are facing cultural loss to use this medium to document as many people, as many cultural practices, ceremonies, crafts, just great times, great spaces as they can. And in that documentation, they actually, especially if it's a younger generation member documenting an older generation member, they've actually stored it in two places. within the medium itself and within themselves. And as they engage with it, they will actually then ingest it another time and possibly share it with somebody else. And being able to share these memories and these stories in that way, I think is the highest form for 360 video. And I hope it doesn't go away.

[00:55:38.690] Gary Yost: Yeah, right on, Adam. Yeah, so I'm with Adam completely on that. I mean, we're 100% aligned on that philosophy. And what I would add to that is a little bit geekier, And that, you know, 360 video right now in a three degree of freedom medium has its limitations. And so, you know, you ask about the ultimate potential of virtual reality. Well, I'm not really going to go to that science fiction place. A lot of other people, that's for someone else, maybe. But for me, the ultimate potential of immersive video is obviously six degree of freedom, immersive video. And I don't mean motion capture and the ways it's being traditionally done now. I mean, a true six degree of freedom camera. And, you know, I plan on living long enough, which is not going to be that many years before I can make films in that medium. And once I'm working in the six stop video medium, even if you only have a meter or two-thirds of a meter of parallax that you can move your head in, it'll just feel like really being there. And the reality is I'm actually part of a team working on building one of those cameras. And I'm like a minor little part of a team, but I've seen one of those cameras, you know, and I know it's coming and I'm super excited about it. So, you know, for me, the ultimate potential is creating experience in a headset where someone really feels like they're there. And when they move their head, they're actually moving their head around. So there you go. A little, a little ultimate potential.

[00:57:07.783] Kent Bye: Nice little sneak peek. And is there, is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community? Stay safe.

[00:57:18.100] Adam Loften: Yeah, we hope if you have a chance to experience inside COVID-19, that it will leave you with a deeper orientation within one person's journey through this pandemic, and it will hopefully make you safer on your journey.

[00:57:35.369] Kent Bye: Yeah. Thank you both, Adam and Gary, for joining me here on the podcast. And the thing that comes to mind as you're talking about these things is going to the Five Artists Festival after the pandemic and seeing a lot of the footage from 360 videos that were shot before the pandemic. And just sitting there thinking to myself, wow, I wonder if this cultural ritual will actually ever happen again, or if it's sort of a lineage of times in which these gatherings have been happening. it's a break in continuity and some of these rituals may never come back. And so just thinking about how, even though the footage I was looking at was only a year ago, it felt like a lifetime ago. And how sometimes about the medium of VR, we don't really fully appreciate it until it's documented something that's no longer there. And I think there's something about people that are working in this medium, especially the work that you're doing, is trying to go out and capture those stories and those people before they're gone so that the future generations will be able to have access to that. So I love the concept of that, and hopefully you'll be able to get back to that deeper mission here soon. But in the meantime, people can definitely check out this piece to be able to really tune into this deeper story of Inside COVID-19. just through the lens of this one story, get closer into what's happening, especially with all the different medical visualizations and everything else. But yeah, I just think it's a great way of trying to bring down everything that's happening in the world into a personal story. And I think it's really powerful and I highly recommend people check it out. So again, Adam, Gary, thanks again for joining me here on the podcast and helping to share your story and your journey into making this piece. Yeah. Thank you for inviting us.

[00:59:10.738] Adam Loften: Yeah. Thank you. It's lovely being with you.

[00:59:13.002] Kent Bye: So that was Adam Loftin. He comes from a traditional documentary filmmaker background, is now creating 360 videos as a part of the WisdomVR project that he co-founded with Gary Yost, who used to be the leader of the team that created 3ds Max and struck up this collaboration with Z Cam in order to use their cameras and their productions for WisdomVR project. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, Well, I think the real strength of the 360 VR medium is to actually take you to these different locations and places and to allow the people that are telling the story to use their surroundings to be able to help really ground themselves into that story. But as you go from these different places and you hear the very personal story of Dr. Josiah Child, but to actually have the CT scans and to actually go inside of his body to see what was actually happening and his experience of that, But also to get into that microscopic scale and to see these coronavirus going into the epithelial cell and see how the whole life cycle, how they reproduce and then send out, you know, it's quite fascinating to see that actual process. So in terms of the structure and the pacing of this piece, I think there are some interesting ethical questions in terms of disclosing what's a recreation and what's not. At the beginning, there were some scenes where he's saying, it is now today, March 20th, or whatever the day, 2020. And they shot it afterwards, and that's a reconstruction. And so there's things like that, that you're creating this illusion that it's at that time. And I think they were doing that for dramatic effect, but I don't know, there's this part of me that sort of loses trust when you start to do those little tricks like that, that then sort of undermine some of the other aspects in terms of how much is the integrity of these other pieces of the film. But at the same time, I think their strategy of being able to script things out a little bit more tightly is something that's distinctly different than I've seen in a lot of 360 video pieces. And I think that in order to have a pacing that moves the story along at a comfortable pace, then that's just one of the tradeoffs, I think, of trying to get the overall structure of the story of what needs to happen for each one of those segments, and then try to get it really tight in terms of getting each of these clips. So I think, you know, there's a deeper theme here, which is the process of confronting death and, you know, the ways in which that this pandemic is asking us all to face the risk of death and what we need to do to be able to protect ourselves, but also to protect those around us. And it was an interesting insight to hear some of the behind the scenes insights from like Dr. Josiah Child, who said that, you know, it could be that these more community oriented cultures that You know, they just have a deeper respect for the elders. And here in the United States, it's almost like they're seeing our elders as disposable. And that's just a utilitarian cost of like only like one percent of people that are dying. Obviously, it's not just people who are older. There's a whole range of different people from younger people, but also folks who have different immune disorders or people who have other high risk factors. But to what degree is this a reflection of our culture of not really respecting our elders? And that to some extent we have to overcompensate for all of these different behaviors and have this abundance of caution. And I think it's like if people really take it to the letter of the line, then they potentially are putting themselves into situations where they're putting themselves and others at risk. And I think that there are these whole other class of people who are just anti-maskers and, you know, it could be that it's like this dynamic of super spreaders and that those super spreaders are accounting for the majority of the spread and the continuation of the spread. And so, you know, how do you get that small majority of those super spreaders to be able to comply? You have to sort of get everybody on the same boat in terms of doing these different protocols and then knowing what those protocols are and then sometimes overcompensating in order to have that effect. And so that's a bit of the dilemma that I think we're in, in terms of needing to overcompensate just to get the collective to be able to get on the same page of all this, especially here in the United States. I mean, what's happening here in the U.S. is just, I don't know, it's unprecedented from what's happening around the world, just because there has been so much disinformation. That's not necessarily something they go into a lot into this piece. I would recommend watching Alex Gibney's Totally Under Control documentary that really covers the ways in which the issue has been politicized, as well as the failures of the federal government to just leave it up to the market and leave it up to each of the states, and there's been no coherent federal response, which I think is part of the issue that we have here. also just the whole level of which the issue of wearing masks has been politicized. And so Dr. Josiah Child says that we shouldn't be having these politicians tell us what we should be doing with public health. We should have the public health officials who are more neutral and not on any political party telling us what we should be doing. And I think the challenge has been that this whole issue has been totally politicized in so many different aspects. And I think that is part of the dynamics of why it's been such an issue here in the United States. So just the last part of the blending of the microscopic and the macroscopic at the end, they're trying to invoke these feelings of that overview effect and really showing you the earth. And so you're having that powers of 10 type of journey where it's not necessarily like you're doing this fractal scaling from one dimension to the next, but they're cutting between the macroscopic scale of the earth and then talking about the different dynamics of what it means to be a part of it. this global community, as well as going down at the microscopic scale, which for me, I think, was quite fascinating just to see the coronavirus at that scale and to see it replicate, see its full life cycle, and to see the impact the coronavirus has on somebody's body through these CT scans and these medical visualizations. Yeah, I don't know. I just, I think it does something that's different than other media as it's covering this topic. And I think that the lessons that both Adam and Gary learned from working on these previous projects with the Wisdom VR project was that to try to really tell an encapsulated and tight personal story and that the real strength of VR as a medium is to really go into this first person phenomenological experience. And that, you know, once you get into the abstractions of numbers and everything else, maybe the 2D medium is just as well as covering some of that. to really take you inside of someone's story and their experiences. I think this actually is giving you something a little bit different that is worth checking out. And also, just generally, in the 360 video medium, this is a bit of an archive of this time period, even though some of these different aspects are reconstructed, that people in the future are going to be looking back into this and seeing it in a completely different light. As we look back into the early days of film, we don't notice just the mundane things. We notice all the other aspects of culture and what they're wearing. the way that they express their identity in their homes and all the different technologies that are around. And the 360 videos that are being covered now, we don't have that space to be able to see the difference of how culture evolves. But over time, the value of that medium is going to be this documentary, anthropological, ethnocentric capture of a culture in a moment in time. And I think this movie also starts to do that as well, as you go into these different locations and all the different technologies and everything else. As we move forward through our evolution of our culture, we'll be able to look back on it with a little bit more space. Just like, you know, sometimes when you take a photo, it doesn't mean as much in the moment, but when you look back, you're able to see that progression of an evolution from that change in that moment, how that moment really captures that memory. And so in some sense, we'll all remember what our experiences were through 2020 and living through this pandemic. And in some ways, I think that this documentary starts to capture elements of that as well. So anyway, go check it out. It's on the Oculus TV. It's like a four part series, around 35 to 40 minutes or so. And yeah, just a very well produced and worth checking out to see some of these different innovations for what you can do with the VR medium when it comes to telling these different types of stories. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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