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PGH in 360 partners with community organizations to teach young people to create 360-degree videos about issues that matter to them.

PGH in 360: Youth Perspectives

location_on Pittsburgh, United States
PGH in 360 has two main purposes: to allow young people to share their views on issues that matter to them, and to introduce them to creating immersive media through producing 360-degree videos. Youth in the program conceptualize an issue and how they would tell it in 360 degrees, learn camera operation, write scripts, film, and edit, producing a finished product and practicing speaking about it.
It’s amazing what young people can do given the tools, the opportunity, and a bit of direction.

Karen Alexander, Director

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about the innovation

New Technologies Activating Youth Voices

XR technology, which includes 360-degree video, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, is a rapidly growing field with an astonishing range of applications in business, industry, education, healthcare, and more, including entertainment. These media will likely lead to a transformation in our daily lives equivalent to, if not greater than, that brought by the smartphone. It’s been hailed as the next computing platform This means that there is enormous opportunity for those who are able to use XR tools.

PGH in 360 is designed to open a window into working in XR to young people in Pittsburgh while giving them a chance to tell their own stories. It’s a small step, but an important one that gives youth experience and confidence in their abilities.

PGH in 360 is inspired by the notion that VR is “the ultimate empathy machine,” as Chris Milk put it in his 2015 TED talk. Its creation was also sparked by an historical moment of technological change: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the advent of video technology made movie creation more accessible and affordable. Feminist artists and media makers of the 1970s fully embraced video technology in order to tell their stories and the stories of other women, so much so that video art became known as a woman’s medium.  

Pittsburgh is abuzz with technological innovation, which is fueling growth and change in this rust belt city. But not everyone has access to the latest in technology and not everyone in the city is benefitting from the tech boom here.

Like the change in women’s representation in media that technological change made possible, the availability of portable, consumer-grade 360 cameras can allow more people to tell their stories in this new medium and open windows into working in XR. All that is necessary to make this possible for youth is to put these tools into their hands and give them a bit of direction so they can create completed 360-degree video projects. Thus PGH in 360: Youth Perspectives was born.

PGH in 360 won a bit of prize money at a social justice innovation weekend hosted by Repair the World Pittsburgh in early 2018, and from there we launched. Our first site and community partner was 1 Hood Media, a media arts and activism organization. In the course of a week, 5 teens at 1 Hood had the opportunity to think through their positions on civic issues, particularly the gentrification taking place in Pittsburgh. They worked collaboratively to achieve project goals and mentored one another in the process, while gaining confidence in their ability to work with new media technology.

Black Youth Speaks, Chapter 1: Retaliation vs. Innocent Lives Lost, is a 360 video created over the course of 2 weeks in June 2018 during a workshop conducted by PGH in 360: Youth Perspectives at the YMCA Lighthouse Project in Pittsburgh. On the first day of the workshop, 21-year-old local rapper Jimmy Wopo was shot and killed. The very next day, 17-year-old Antwon Rose II was shot in the back and killed by police. Participants in the workshop were no stranger to the effects of gun violence, but these events provided a sense of immediacy that fueled their desire to tackle the subject in 360 degrees. The video is inspired by the filmmakers’ experience of and concerns about the impact of gun violence on their community.

The issues these youth-created videos address are ones that matter, and the project gave the creators a new medium in which to explore the topics. Writing, directing, acting, storyboarding for 360, camera operation, editing, soundtracks, titles, and transitions: these were among the skills practiced in bringing the stories to life. And of course, there was teamwork. Though PGH in 360 was designed to introduce young people to XR technologies through the medium of 360, the soft skills used in the program are equally important.

PGH in 360 videos were shared with the public at multiple events in 2018, including Youth Innovation Night, which was part of the city’s Inclusive Innovation Week in April, and at the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s CREATE Festival and at TEDx Pittsburgh in June. In September, we had the chance to showcase PGH in 360 videos at the Thrival Festival’s Life.Code Interactive Experience in the stunningly beautiful Music Hall Foyer at the Carnegie Museum of Art. All told, more than 100 people put on headsets to watch the videos at these events. The response was overwhelmingly positive. We hope that the experience of watching the videos gave viewers the opportunity to stand in the shoes of Pittsburgh youth for a while and to better understand some of the issues that are important to them.

In November of 2018 PGH in 360: Youth Perspectives was selected for inclusion in a listing of 100 Voices of AR and VR in Education. It was also a special experience to present on the project in a live-in-VR event in December, bringing the voices and concerns of Pittsburgh youth to an international audience.

Moving forward, the goal is to develop relationships with organizations in other cities so that we can bring the workshops to even more people. We will also continue offering 360-degree video workshops in Pittsburgh while expanding efforts to make XR tools accessible to all people in the city. This work has already begun, through lessons that introduce younger children to augmented and virtual reality.

This project is about introducing youth to new technology and letting them use their creativity to express their perspectives on their lives and the world in which they live. It’s amazing what young people can do given the tools, the opportunity, and a bit of direction.


Innovation Overview
14 - 18
Age Group
-
Children/Users
1
Country
2018
Established
-
Organisation
237
Views
Media

See this innovation in action

PGH in 360 Videos Shown at Festivals It was wonderful to be able to share PGH in 360 videos with the public at 4 different events in 2018. 360 Cameras = All Angles, the video made at 1Hood Media, was shown at Youth Innovation Night, which was part of the city’s Inclusive Innovation Week in April, and at the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s CREATE Festival and at TEDx Pittsburgh in June. Then, in September, A Safe Place and Black Youth Speaks, Chapter 1: Retaliation Vs. Innocent Lives Lost, the videos made over the summer at the Lighthouse Project, were added to the mix. We had the chance to showcase all three of the 360 videos at the Thrival Festival’s Life.Code Interactive Experience in the stunningly beautiful Music Hall Foyer at the Carnegie Museum of Art. All told, more than 100 people put on headsets to watch the videos at these events. The response was overwhelmingly positive. We hope that the experience of watching the videos gave viewers the opportunity to stand in the shoes of Pittsburgh youth for a while and to better understand some of the issues that are important to them. Below are some of the comments from viewers and a few photos from the events. Viewer responses to PGH in 360 videos “Black Youth Speaks is a very powerful video that places you into an environment that is true to how gun violence can destroy a community.” “Excellent, 360 video really immerses you in the world the director wants to portray and feel what they want you to feel.” “Awesome! Would help a lot of people have empathy for those issues if they could be placed ‘inside’ them.” “I think it is a really good way for people to sympathize with the real situation and will bring more people in the community to care.” “I am familiar with East Liberty and felt it was close to real. Great learning tool.” “I think this is a great project. Was happy to see these teens being creative and investigative.” “interesting questions and responses—voices that need to be heard more” “immersive way to show people another’s experience–could be beneficial in practicing empathy” “incredible to see teens’ voices in this medium!” “It feels like a real inclusive program & video that actually takes into account the opinion and thought of youth.” “really creative and relevant content” “It’s great to see and hear teen voices. I think this is a great way to both capture and get buy-in from teen communities.” “So great to see honest opinions and step into the experience of others in a way no one else has” “Surprised at the serious content our teens produce.” “very interesting & important way of storytelling. I would love to see even more perspectives.” “creative project that gives youth an avenue to express themselves” “very powerful, impressive production value, voices from which we should hear more.” “Well produced. I am glad youth are being in such creative productions. Well done :)” “very good immersive storytelling” “very well done, powerful!”

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

May 2019
100 views
January 2019
Innovation added to the HundrED
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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Select an organization to work with or a group of students
Many community organizations have relationships with young people, so that can be a good way to start. Or, if you already work as a teacher or at an organization that has relationships with young people, recruit those who are interested.
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02
Create a detailed list of equipment needed
You'll need to figure out exactly what equipment you need, and figure out what's already on hand what you need to purchase or borrow.
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03
Determine budget and source of funding
Do you have the funds to cover the cost of the workshop? Great! If not apply to local funders of nonprofit projects or ask your community partner if they have funding in their budget for the project.
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04
Set your schedule
Determine how many sessions you will have and how long they will be.
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05
Introduction
In the first session, the group will need to get to know one another, and they'll also need to become familiar with 360 video.
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06
Talk about the issues
Get the students to talk among themselves about the issues that affect their lives and communities and that they care most about.
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