[Panotour Pro 2.0] Case study #10: Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, Immersive journalism | Martin Edström photographer

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Kolor is pleased to publish online the tenth post blog entitled “Case Study”. Its purpose is various:

  • Enhance and highlight the work of a photographer
  • Present the results obtained with our software solutions and present business field where they can be applied
  • To put the photographer in touch with potentials customers

For this tenth case study, Martin Edström photographer uses the virtual tour and Panotour Pro 2.0 to present Zaatari 360, a new type of immersive journalism, the 360 degree reportage.

Could you introduce yourself?


My name is Martin Edström, I am a freelancing photographer and journalist from Sweden. My main subjects are natural history, often in terms of environmental reportages, and human rights, often concerning stories about refugees and their situation in various corners of the world. I work both as a writing journalist and photographer, often combining these roles to tell stories. I work a lot with interactive journalism, trying to bring journalism to life a part from still images and text.

Interactivity and immersion are incredible tools to bring the readers/viewers closer to a subject – and I want to make use of them. Today’s online journalism has not yet fully reached it’s potential – I think there are enormous possibilities of storytelling that we are still not using. Part of this got me interested in creating virtual tours with Kolor, as a new way of creating immersive ways of storytelling.

Kolor team found very interesting your project Zaatari 360. Can you explain it?

This is one of my first ventures into making 360-reportages – immersive experiences through which the reader and viewer can experience journalism in a new way. Through gamification (the process of using elements of computer games to engage the reader) the 360-reportage makes a story interactive. It’s possible for the reader to walk through the story, and feel like they were there themselves. The best journalism is made on the spot – by the journalist being there. With the 360-reportage, we can bring the reader there as well.

I chose to make one of Zaatari camp since I’ve found refugee camps to be some of the hardest things to portray in still photography. Even if you take great photographs of the people and the places within a refugee camp, it’s hard to really convey the size and feeling inside the refugee camp. It’s extremely hard to get the reader immersed in the story through still photography – but with 360-photography you get much more immersion from the experience. This way, the Zaatari 360 experience is a great way of showing people what a refugee camp is like – the enormous size of it, and different aspects of everyday life. People can experience it for themselves, and hopefully be inspired to help the people in need.

Could you give us more details about the shooting? How did you make the virtual tour?

Me and my journalist colleagues spent two weeks in the camp – the first was mostly about making interviews and getting to know the camp. The second week I started shooting 360-images. I use the GigaPan Epic Pro system for automating the photographs, taking a lot of images in 360 degrees that can be stitched into a Panorama. This is done with Autopano Giga 3.0. We took several panoramas every day, many of them with very high resolution – sometimes taking 45 minutes to complete for one location.

Then, after arriving home with hundreds of gigabytes of images on my harddrive, began the long work of stitching all of the panoramas and putting them together to an interactive reportage with Panotour Pro 2.0. This involved a lot of trials and errors, as well as consultation with the Panotour technicians. Also, to get the tour just as I wanted I put some code in myself, and a lot of CSS to customize the appearence on desktop vs. mobile.

Through this project, what kind of message do you want to transmit?

I want people to learn about the disastrous conflict in Syria and to get to know the people who are affected, by meeting the refugees in Zaatari. I also think it’s extremely important for people to know more about the refugee issue, since it’s one of the world’s largest challenges for the future. Estimates say that the number of refugees will keep growing, and we can’t just pretend like nothing is happening when millions of people are living in camps with extremely low standard. I want people to experience what a refugee camp is like, hoping to convey the message to them in a way that can bring greater understanding for refugees and the refugee issue.

Through Zaatari 360, we notice that the virtual reality can concern other field suchas real estate or tourism. It is your opinion?

Definitely. There’s no limit for what 360-imagery can be used for. Journalism, tourism and real estate are just a few possible themes. Anything that needs a new kind of storytelling online should start looking at making 360-experiences. Martin has received the Jury’s Special Award at the ceremony of the Swedish Picture of the Year, Årets bild 2014.

What kind of quipment did you use to make this virtual tour?

Camera and lens Accessories Software
  • DSLR camera
  • Multiple lenses
  • Gigapan Epic Pro

Do you have other projects you would like to share with us?

I have a lot of things in the pipeline right now. Just returned home from Rwanda, where I made two 360-reportages about the memory of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. And most of all, I am still planning for the Everest 360 project, in which I intend to capture a lot of 360-images from the Everest region in Nepal. This is meant to become like a “time traveling archive”. By taking 360-images in the same spot every 5 eyars, we’ll be able to follow the Everest region – its nature and its villages – grow and develop over time.

If our readers want to congratulate or leave you a kind message, how can they do?


If you also want to present your work and appear on the Kolor blog for the “Case Study #11″, thank you to contact us by email or leave a comment. Kolor team


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