Immersive media is the focus of a summer workshop in Portland

Immersive forms of media are on the verge of transforming the worlds of journalism and communications, which is why the UO will host an eight-week immersive workshop on the new technology this summer at the Oregon Reality Lab in Portland.

The workshop, presented by the School of Journalism and Communication and aimed at professionals, will take a deep look at how emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 videos are changing storytelling. As many industries are starting to use immersive media for marketing, designing, educating and more, the AR and VR market is predicted to generate almost $200 billion by 2025, according to research firm Statista.

Introduction, Exploration and Design Fundamentals of Immersive Media” is the first workshop of its kind in the Portland area, according to Donna Davis, director of UO Portland’s strategic communication master’s program and director of the Oregon Reality Lab. The recently opened lab is a state-of-the-art immersive space for pioneering media-making and research using emerging technologies.

Davis said communicating through virtual, augmented, mixed and extended realities is becoming important in just about every industry, from education to health care and from tourism to the sciences. The course is meant to help professionals interested in immersive media build a basic understanding of these technologies and their uses across industries.

The class will be taught in three segments. Davis will teach the first two classes about social VR to help participants understand and critically analyze the importance, potential uses and ethical considerations of the technology across a variety of platforms.

“When you harness the power of this type of technology, that comes with a responsibility to individuals and communities,” Davis said.

Maxwell Foxman, assistant professor of journalism and communication, will continue the course with three classes about how to begin building virtual environments. Nikki Dunsire, instructor of journalism and communication, will teach the last three classes about how to create custom content using industry standard software like Maya and Unity as well as cross-reality hardware to combine VR, AR and mixed reality.

Regina Lawrence, associate dean for the School of Journalism and Communication in Portland, said many people associate VR with gaming, but she believes it’s much more than that.

“This course is for people who have a use for immersive technology for their work or a social cause but haven’t had the chance to understand how to use it,” Lawrence said.

Participants will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

The eight-week workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fridays from July 12 to Aug. 30 at the White Stag Block, 70 NW Couch St., Portland, in Suite 405, the Oregon Reality Lab. The cost of the course is $895 and registration closes July 1.  

—By Emily Hoard, University Communications