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See the world through the eyes of a newborn baby with MA Documentary Film grad’s Guardian Virtual Reality project

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Written by
htownsend
Published date
18 October 2017

Anetta Jones, graduate of LCC’s MA Documentary Film course, has joined the Guardian’s Virtual Reality (VR) team as a producer – recently working on a film showing how a baby’s perceptions changes through the eyes of the newborn in their first year of life.

Working with VR for just over a year, Anetta has already demonstrated early success in her field. ‘First Impressions’ has so far been exhibited at Sheffield DocFest, Open City DocFest, The Other Art Fair, Raindance Film Festival, PHI Centre Montreal and NY Media Centre, with more screenings are yet to come.

Francesca Panetta, executive editor of virtual reality at Guardian News & Media, said: “First Impressions is a beautiful portrayal of the first 6 months of life and gives viewers a real insight into a period of crucial development which we have all experienced but aren’t able to recall.”

We caught up with LCC grad Anetta to find out about being a VR producer…

Can you give us a brief overview of the process of creating ‘First Impressions’?

We worked with leading researchers and academics in the field to explore the dramatic visual development a baby goes through and also the importance of responsive care and social interaction in the first year of life. We wove the two together into a script and filmed with actors over two days on location.

“VR has no precedent so everything we do is innovative and experimental.” – Anetta Jones

We filmed with the Jump camera system which is a 16-camera GoPro Odyssey rig that films in 360 and 3D. This footage was stitched and edited together, and then we applied visual effects. Interactivity was coded in through the game engine Unity and finally, we recorded the voice over and did the sound design and music.

In what ways do you feel VR can have positive impact on people and society?

VR seems to be making positive strides in education, health, design etc. As for documentary and journalism, I think VR as a medium immerses the user in the centre of a story which can be very powerful in putting a message across. I also just think that any new creative medium for people to express themselves can only be a good thing.

What advice would you give to documentary film students uncertain of career paths and prospects?

It can be tough to get jobs in the film world because it’s so competitive. But if you really want this career path then I’d advise to work really hard and also to hustle! Email way more CVs out than you think you should, contact random people in the industry to go for coffees and be genuinely lovely to everyone as it’s a small world.

Anetta Jones, MA Documentary Film graduate

What are you currently working on what is next for you?

I have just produced a virtual reality interactive film called ‘Crime Scene’ which is being released early November. It is a fun, exploratory piece about forensic science based on latest research into forensic techniques.

What has been the highlight of this opportunity?

VR has no precedent so everything we do is innovative and experimental.

 What has been the most challenging aspect of this journey?

Again, because there is no rule book, I often feel like I’m drowning in all that there is to learn and do!

How did your course prepare you for such a role?

I definitely grew more confident in my storytelling capabilities.

Words by Jyoti Mann.

View a 360 degree version of the project.

Follow Anetta on Twitter.