Way to the North:
immersive cyclopedia
360° educational storytelling project
This is an educational and pop-science project in the northern Norway and Svalbard in September 2016. Conceptually, our project is positioned at the intersection of multimedia encyclopaedia and modern explanatory journalism. It will be a series of short 360° video documentary stories, which will tell about the Arctic region in terms of physical geography, social anthropology, and ecology.
Filming crew: Sergey Polezhaka, Alex Furman
Field work: September 2016
Postproduction: October-December 2016
360° Virtual Reality Narrated Encyclopedia
Three approaches for the Arctic Stories
Our three stories are aimed to show main features of the Arctic region, three chapters per story. The questions we rise are in the range between simple ones like "What is the nature of the Northern Lights" till contemporary issues like "How does the global warming affect us all?"
1. Physical Geography

In this block we describe and explain basic geographic features of the Arctic region.

- Arctic circle: Where astronomy meets geography
- Water, snow, ice: Arctic ocean and its climate
- Wild inhabitants: flora and faune of the polar region

2. People

Chapters telling stories of the communities living below the 66th parallel

- Legacy and adaptation: indigenous people, their crafts and survival methods
- Inspiration: influence of the nature on the Scandinavian architecture, style and way of living
- Current affairs: from seed vault to scientific research bases, what opportunities does the Arctic give to humanity
3. Environment

How far can we push nature before it starts pushing back?

- How we impact: dangerous fossil fuel extraction, global warming, traditional hunting
- Voice of the voiceless: scientists and other polar geeks, their life, work, challenges and fun
- At the frontier: already witnessed results of the anthropogenic activities, from water rise to change in the animal habitat areal
How do we tell this story?
The Virtual Reality format changes the way how we produce, edit and consume content. Moreover, it changes the way we spread our message, the way how we build narration. We are happy to accept the challenge and take part in this worldwide race. Basic elements of our VR application are as following:
360 Documentary footage
Natural beauty and human curiosity lead people to the most extreme places on Earth like Arctic while harsh environment stops them.
With the full-spheric 360° video we let the viewers literally appear in these places and situations which remain an object of desire - at least virtually.

From witnessing Northern Lights to walking under overwhelming glacier icefalls.
From fishing with locals on Lofoten to to dog sledding on Svalbard.
From taking the water probes with scientists to having a coffee in front of the classic Norwegian house.

We are using a main 8-camera rig to produce high-quality photos, videos and timelapses and an additional camera for spheric photographs.

Every block and chapter has
Audio Narration
To grab a viewer's attention back from watching an overwhelming visuals to a story we're telling, we introduce a speaker, who will guide the audience through the plot. The narrator gives an insight on what we are looking at, makes us pay attention to the details and explains the relations between different facts and why they are important.

The information for the lectures is gathered by using primarily two methods. Firstly, more scientific stories are based on the data kindly provided by the Educational Institutions like University on Svalbard and Tromso University and their open sources. Secondly, social stories are made by a journalistic standards and utilize our own interviews and open survey results. Our editors team also involves of scientists who take care of the balance between an amount of facts we give, entertainment elements and an overall verity.

Infographic highlights
A classic lecture incorporates a lecturer, who, in addition to speaking, draws our attention to the elements on the desk with a wooden pointer.
While we can't bring such person with us to the Arctic, we can highlight and additionally visualize the data with the interactive infographic.
A Nortern Light can be 700 km tall. A layer pattern on rocks tells its geological history. An area covered by ice shield was much bigger in the previous decade. All of these facts will only benefit from the light, half-transparent augmented-reality infographics as an overlay to the documentary imagery.
Classic footage for Augmented reality
Some elements of the stories have to be shot close-up, which is not always possible with a massive 360° camera set.
A polar bear from the Fauna chapter could come to visit the filming place - and could not. A sun, not going to go down, looks like a small dot in the wide-angle view, and has to be shot with a telephoto lens too. Bursting life of zooplankton in the Arctic waters require a microphotography.
Such footage, edited into ultrashort 30-50sec pieces, will be incorporated as an additional, explanatory imagery - a viewer has an option to play it, if he or she wants to obtain the deeper information on the subject. The "classic", flat 16x9 videos appear as a small icons over the described object and are activated by a long watching at them - method, familiar to VR users. Once activated, videos open full-screen to be viewed without taking the VR mask off.
What is our expedition workflow?
The main production part of the project is the expedition to the Arctic part of Scandinavia and Svalbard island. We're shooting for 3 and 1 week on the mainland and island, respectively.
What is our postproduction workflow?

The VR market is developing extraordinary fast and already high bar will continue to rise. Considering this, we are interested to finish the postproduction stage in the shortest time and at the highest level. Our postproduction timeline is based on several vectors of a simultaneous work, divided between subteams:
Oct 03-10
Oct 03-10
Edutainment as a story tissue
Text stories, pre-written in August and updated during the expedition, are sent a) to the narrator for the draft voice recording b) to the science editors for допилить напильником and a triple fact-checking. The chief editor takes care about the balance and updates the lectures texts both according to the researchers' notes and requirements for smooth and fluent narration.
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Oct 03-10
Oct 03-10
General look: brainstorming and decisions
Spherical visuals are stitched together in the preview quality and are run through the first round of watching. After the analysis, the crew updates the storyboard and generates ideas about the general visual appearance of the application: color scheme, navigation, amount of infographics, interactivity, and CG in the stories.
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Oct 10-21
Oct 10-21
Teams are working on their assignments and prepare all main elements of the film:
Video editors are making a rough cut of the 360° stories; Designers are working on the first set of graphics required; Filming team sorts out the additional "flat" footage and technical still photographs; Sound producer prepares the ambience and interview audio.
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Oct 24 -Nov 04
Oct 24 -Nov 04
Building a story
Joining pieces from different crew into the story: mixing both documentary and narrator's audio, adding flat video pieces and infographic to the spherical footage. Shake, not stir. Teams coming back to put changes in the content of their responsibility. Video editors start the color correction, designer has an additional assignment, narrator records the final voice sound. Updating the main body of work.
Marketing team starts pitching the project to the content distributors and continues their activity in social media.
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Nov 07 - 25
Nov 07 - 25
Developers team starts their work on the mobile application for PlayMarket and AppStore.
Editors team corrects minor mistakes and puts small design changes.
Showing and discussing the product with the distributors of an educational content.

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Beginning of Dec
Beginning of Dec
Applications uploaded.
Developers take care of the updates and tech. support.
Meetings with partners and distributors for agreements and contracts.
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During both the expedition and the postproduction period we use main social media platforms to organize and analyze the audience, share behind-the-scenes insights in our travelog and keep up the live conversation with our curious readers.

To broaden the coverage and raise awareness about our product, thematic extracts of the content will be featured in our parthers media. Since the project is aimed at the inquisitive, active and concerned public, our partners media are in the range between ecological instagram-magazines through online travel guides to major print media.
Environment, technology, nature, education, multimedia, documentary and art - we have something to offer to every niche.
Our team:
Film Director
Sergey Polezhaka
Visual storyteller, using photojournalism and documentary videography. Graduated from Danish School of Media and Journalism, currently combines freelance work with international media with personal art projects.
Field producer
Alexey Furman
Award-winning photojournalist currently pursuing his Master's degree at Missouri School of Journalism. Member of Getty Images Reportage as an Emerging Talent photographer. Works with numerous reputed print and online media on a freelance basis.
Yaroslava Kutsai
As a Journalist, she has been working for a National Geographic Ukraine. Studied Environment & Natural Resources at University of Iceland
Project Manager
Maria Savoskula
Videographer and editor
Kirill Zhilinskiy
Andrey Kvasov
Video Editor
Sofia Nikolina/Lizz Cardwell
Social Media Manager
Verum Visum
On the postproduction stage we collaborate with Verum Visum in terms of work with interactive features of the project and application development.

Verum Visum is a Kiev-based company, famous for Chornobyl360°, first-of-its-kind immersive documentary project from the place of a nuclear disaster.
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