How do you represent the damage being done daily by Russian attacks on Ukraine? A VG journalist found a solution using the 3D technology in his iPhone.
The paper’s Middle East correspondent tells how he met the visual storytelling challenge following a visit to a Kyiv suburb in an INMA audio and video innovations blog.
Kyrre Lien says since he was in Kyiv when the war broke out, much of his work on the foreign desk has been dedicated to telling stories from the country.
“During the first few weeks and months of the war, we saw a staggering number of readers at VG, with our audience reading almost everything we wrote,” he says. “Now the situation is different, and we have to work a lot harder to keep our readers and challenge both the visual and textual storytelling.”
On a recent visit to the suburb of Bucha, he saw some of the worst atrocities of the war to date.
“I visited a local resident, Vasili and his burnt-out apartment, where the damage was immense,” he says. “The furniture had turned to melted plastic and burnt wood, and the walls were blackened from the fire. A Russian tank had fired into the apartment during the first days of the invasion.”
After an interview and some regular still photos, he wanted to document it further because he was still not able to show the extent of the room’s damage.
He used a feature of his iPhone Pro – a lidar – which sends out lightwaves and records the time for a signal to return – create a 3D map of the apartment.
The phone uses data from motion sensors and cameras to help with accuracy, resulting in “quite decent” 3D models, even though there are far more costly alternatives.
“For me, it’s key to have a small kit that can be brought to most situations,” he says.
Using the 3D Scanner app, he mapped the apartment, using the phone to scan the floor, walls and ceiling, a process that took only a minute or so. The application then stitched the model together, making it possible to export it into another format to make the presentation more interactive.
For the Stockholm paper’s ‘Summer in Bucha’ report, it was used as a visual element, with a model which could slowly spin around enabling viewers to the room from all sides, “almost floating on the final webpage of the story”.
The final report also included text, still images and video loops, bringing home to Norwegian readers the horror of the war.