More

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.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less
via Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

The tiniest state with the longest name may soon just be the tiniest state after November 3. Rhode Island is voting on whether to change its official name from "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to "The State of Rhode Island."

Lawmakers in the state would like to shorten the name because the term "plantations" has a historical connection to slavery in the United States.

This isn't the first time the state has attempted to remove "plantations" from its name. Rhode Island attempted the change ten years ago and 78% of voters opposed the idea.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
True

When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, life as we knew it quickly changed. As many people holed up in their homes, some essential workers had to make the impossible choice of going to work or quitting their jobs— a choice they continue to make each day.

Because over 80 percent of working Hispanic adults provide essential services for the U.S. economy, the Hispanic community is disproportionately affected. Hispanic families are also much more likely to live in multigenerational households, carrying the extra risk of infecting the most vulnerable. In fact, Hispanics are 20 times more likely than other patients to test positive for COVID-19.

Claudia Romo Edelman saw a community in desperate need of guidance and support. And she created Hispanic Star, a non-profit designed to help Hispanic people in the U.S. pull together as a proud, unified group and overcome barriers — the most pressing of which is the effects of the pandemic.

Because the Hispanic community is so diverse, unification is, and was, an enormous challenge.

Photo credit: Hispanic Star

Keep Reading Show less

Electing Donald Trump to be president of the United States set an incredibly ugly example for the nation's youth.

We know how it's affected the national discourse of regular adults. But there's no denying the conduct of a president impacts how children around the world see the example being set for them. Every day for the past four years, children have been subjected to the behavior of a divisive figure that many of their parents chose to exalt to the most powerful office in the world.

Sure, adults can make excuses for him saying he's an "imperfect messenger" or that they "didn't vote for him to be reverend," but these are all just ways to rationalize voting for a man with zero character. What a message to send to children: Act awful and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

But what if you took away the "Trump" name and examined the character traits of him as an ordinary person? More specifically, what if your daughter came to you and said this was the kind of person she was planning to date? Well, one MAGA family found out and the results are funny, insightful and quite revealing about how we somehow hold our leaders to different and lower standards than we expect from ourselves in our day to day lives.

Keep Reading Show less
File:Delta Airlines - Boeing 767-300 - N185DN (Quintin Soloviev ...

Want to land yourself on a no-fly list? Refuse to wear a mask on an airplane. Delta is actually having to ban people from flights for not wearing masks. "As of this week, we've added 460 people to our no-fly list for refusing to comply with our mask requirement," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a message to employees per CNN. The number is up from 270 people in August. It's kinda nuts that people are so against covering their nose and mouth that they're actually willing to get kicked off an airline, but here we are.

We're a good seven months in to the pandemic, so having to wear some kind of protective covering isn't new anymore. Delta flights have been requiring face masks on flights since May 4th, and has been barring rule breakers from traveling since June. Delta is also one of two major U.S. airlines that keeps the middle seat open (at least until the end of 2020).

Keep Reading Show less