True/False virtual reality experience explores Ferguson shooting

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COLUMBIA - For the first time in True/False Film Fest history, festival goers had the chance to experience documentary journalism in a more immersive way - through virtual reality storytelling.

Ferguson Firsthand allows the participant to navigate through a recreation of the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent testimonies and news reports. Participants wear virtual-reality goggles that recreate animated scenes and shift the picture based on how the participant tilts their head.

"Everything in the story is physically accurate to the scene," Graphic Journalist Dan Archer, who pioneered the project, said. "I mapped it out using my background in graphic journalism. I really wanted to create an accurate container that would house all of the parts to the story." 

Archer said he went to Ferguson as soon as he heard the news about Michael Brown's death. He took photos of the scene and used those photos when he mapped out the virtual reality experience.

"It's all about trying to take the stories that we tell and allow people to really experience it firsthand through the interviewees and those involved in the stories," Archer said. "To really share their stories, because at the end of the day the tech is great, but it's all about the story."

Archer said about 400 people took part in this interactive experience during the festival.

"I think it's just great for a festival that's as pioneering and innovative and celebrated as True/False to be aware and incorporating these different film techniques," he said.