• So/VR Journalism

    Hammer & Tusk presents a virtual and mixed reality symposium

  • Symposium on Virtual Reality Journalism

    June 25, 2016 • Pacific Rim Hotel and Conference Centre



    Mixed and Virtual Reality has been described as the next platform shift, and its applications in journalism are wide-reaching. The New York Times has invested in both 360 video and immersive films in its partnership with Google Cardboard - they shipped 1.2 million viewers to their subscribers. The Associated Press has launched their own VR/360 channel in collaboration with AMD to feature the news organization's latest advances in immersive journalism. The Microsoft HoloLens allows virtual and real worlds to mix, bringing news activated by your surroundings. Even the The Des Moines Register has created a VR experience, a tour of a family farm in Iowa.


    The technology is here to stay, and learning how to use it as more than just a gimmick will be a key to content creation in the field of journalism in coming years.


    Join Hammer & Tusk as we present lectures, panels, and virtual and mixed reality demos in this day-long symposium on journalism and its place in the field of immersive content.

  • Speakers

    We've got a top notch line up of speakers working at the intersection of Virtual Reality and Journalism.

    Paul Cheung

    Associated Press   @pcheung630

    Paul Cheung is AP’s Director of Interactives and Digital News Production. The director manages a global team of visual journalists who produce multimedia and information graphics for all formats, including print, online and mobile. Cheung was an adjunct faculty member at Columbia Journalism School teaching visual journalism in the spring of 2011 and 2012.

    Cassandra Herrman

    Emblematic Group   @CassandraH

    Cassandra Herrman is a documentary producer and videographer who has filmed in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the U.S. Her work in Africa has included stories about human rights conditions in Zimbabwe, the singer Fela Kuti in Nigeria, female runners in Kenya and the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region. Her films have been nominated for two national Emmy awards.

    Tyson Sadler

    RYOT   @tysonsadler

    Tyson Sadler is an award-winning Virtual Reality journalist and documentary filmmaker. He has directed VR for The Huffington Post, Associated Press, and The New York Times. He has worked on several short and long form documentary pieces dealing with International politics, conflict, and reconciliation. As the Director of Special Projects for RYOT VR, Tyson has been on the front lines of some of the year's biggest news stories.

    Mack Flavelle

    Founder, Hammer & Tusk   @mackflavelle

    Led by Mack Flavelle, Hammer & Tusk builds products, crafts bespoke experiences, and curates conversation in the immersive entertainment space. Before H&T Mack was the CEO of gaming outfit Compass Engine (acquired by East Side Games), and served as VP of Marketing at Tapstream (a marketing suite for mobile apps used by Microsoft, Rosetta Stone, and Twitch). Mack serves as advisor to CareLedger, a Y Combinator-backed digital health startup.

    Taylor Owen

    Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs, University of BC   @taylor_owen

    Taylor Owen is a Senior Fellow at the Columbia Journalism School. He was previously the Research Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, where he designed and led a program studying the impact of digital technology on the practice of journalism. His research and writing focuses on the intersection between information technology and international affairs.

    Mike Gittens

    Hammer & Tusk, Global News 

    Mike Gittens is an expert in the field of immersive entertainment. With a deep background in audio video and broadcast technologies, he is always pushing the boundaries of new media. Mike is Hammer & Tusk’s Social VR expert, focusing on the many growing channels for virtual interaction.

    Refah Mahmoud

    Producer/Director at DRYFT Digital   @RefahSM

    An inveterate day-dreamer, Refah still managed to graduate with an MFA in film from Montana State University, and now applies his fascination with the structure of storytelling to the emerging field of virtual reality. Teaming up with Erik Rochner to form DRYFT Digital, their “quirky” VR short film Beer With A Bear has screened in headsets around the world, been featured in a Samsung commercial, and most recently earned them a spot in the “New Frontiers” program at Sundance.

  • June 25, 2016

    Pacific Rim Hotel and Conference Centre

    Vancouver, Canada


    The Event

    So/VR Journalism will run from 10-6 on Saturday, June 25. The day will begin with lectures on virtual reality, 360 video, and mixed reality from local journalists, followed by hands-on demos during lunch. We will showcase the latest immersive journalism content and technologies on Samsung GearVR, Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens, and HTC Vive hardware. Breakout sessions, an afternoon panel, and a keynote address will cap off the learning portion of the day.


    Then, join us in the early evening for cocktails and more demos as we discuss what we've learned and how to take our new skills to the next level.




    The Schedule



    Registration Opens



    Mack Flavelle - Behind the Mask - Introduction to Virtual/Mixed/Augmented Reality



    Mike Gittens - Running Out of the Frame: Adventures in 360 Video



    Taylor Owen - Narrative Techniques in Virtual Reality Journalism



    Lunch by the Pacific Rim and Tech Demos



    Breakout Sessions



    Paul Cheung - Associated Press and Virtual Reality



    Refah Seyed Mahmoud - Breaking the Frame: Defining the Final Medium



    Panel - The Power of Immersive Storytelling - Cassandra Herrman, Tyson Sadler, Taylor Owen, Paul Cheung



    Mack Flavelle - Closing Remarks



    Sandbox and Cocktails




  • The Venue

    Fairmont Pacific Rim: luxury, naturally inspired, sophisticated and contemporary. Featuring the best of the Pacific Rim in its plan, décor, and culinary offerings. Stylish rooms and unique suites integrate naturally inspired materials and state-of-the-art technology. Our Vancouver location is sure to impress with captivating views of the water and mountains.

  • Register to Attend

    Early Bird pricing and Late Bird pricing apply - register now!

  • Why You?

    So/VR Journalism is the perfect opportunity for professional growth and networking. Make sure you don't get left behind by fast-moving technological shifts!


    So/VR is for reporters who want to be prepared for the future. Whether you're starting from scratch or you're already a VR enthusiast, there will be opportunity for learning and, yes, development at this day-long event.


    If you find the term 'virtual reality' confusing, this symposium is for you. If you find the term 'virtual reality' exciting but don't know where to start learning more, this symposium is for you. If you're already building your own 360 content - come meet others who will get excited by your projects! No matter where you are, in your journey of immersive discovery, if you're a journalist - this symposium is for you.