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If watching a movie is like seeing another world, then his latest film is like teleporting to one.

He went from rap videos to the cutting edge of immersive filmmaking. And what he's doing with it is absolutely wonderful.

If watching a movie is like seeing another world, then his latest film is like teleporting to one.

Chris Milk went into film because he sees its world-changing potential.

Milk is a photographer, designer, a bit of a techy, and a filmmaker. His career picked up steam through his mind-blowing media collaborations with some of the most prominent names in music, like Green Day, Arcade Fire, and Kanye West.


His hype video for Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" landed him in the middle of a lawsuit with his boyhood hero, Evel Knievel. (It was settled amicably.)

But Milk believes in order to get the most out of film, not only do the ideas have to evolve, but so does the medium itself.

"Film, it's an incredible medium, but essentially, it's the same now as it was then. It's a group of rectangles that are played in a sequence. ... I started thinking about, is there a way that I can use modern and developing technologies to tell stories in different ways and tell different kinds of stories that maybe I couldn't tell using the traditional tools of filmmaking that we've been using for 100 years? ... What I was trying to do was to build the ultimate empathy machine."
— Chris Milk

Enter: VIRTUAL REALITY!

Milk says watching traditional film is like looking through a window into another world. But he wanted to put people in that other world. The solution: virtual reality (VR).

He and his tech team built this 360-degree 3D camera and mic gizmo to shoot films that would allow people to not just see but experience another world through VR.


He didn't shoot more Kanye videos with that 3D camera. He started with Syria.

Syrians have become one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Milk wanted to tell that story.

His first virtual reality film, "Clouds Over Sidra," is about a little Syrian girl whose family fled the violent civil war in their country and now live in a refugee camp in Jordan.

When you see the film in VR, you can physically look around and see everything the camera saw. But here's some sample footage stretched out into a traditional film rectangle:



"When you're inside of the headset. you're not seeing it like this. You're looking around through this world. You'll notice you see full 360 degrees, in all directions. ... You're not watching it through a television screen. You're not watching it through a window. You're sitting there with her. When you look down, you're sitting on the same ground that she's sitting on. And because of that, you feel her humanity in a deeper way. You empathize with her in a deeper way."
— Chris Milk

Then he took the film to some people whose jobs it is to make change possible.

After Milk finished his film in Syria, he and his team took their film — and a gang of VR headsets — to the World Economic Forum and showed it to people who could make decisions that would improve the situation for those refugees.

The film was a hit. Maybe not in the same way as "Transformers," but it affected the group enough to catch the attention of the United Nations.

Changing the world, according to Milk, means you have to change people's minds.

Now, Milk is shooting a series of films around the world that will take policymakers out of their armchairs and put them virtually on the ground in places where global aid is sorely needed.

Learn more about how he's expanding his project around the world:

Personally, I'm excited for a chance to experience these films. Meanwhile, here's hoping that Milk is right about what they could do for global empathy and positive change.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less