This sponsored post is produced by Samsung and Viceland.

As anyone knows who’s been following developments in recent months, virtual reality has definitely arrived. We’re not exactly traversing through alien worlds as seen in Ready Player One, but VR has taken significant steps towards becoming mainstream, thanks to the abundance of video-game peripherals releasing this year.

But VR isn’t just redefining how we play; it’s redefining how we tell a story. It’s changing the user’s role from a passive viewer to an active participant. It’s giving creators new ways of bringing us together and evoking true empathy using technology that can literally let you see the world in a whole new perspective — a world that stretches far beyond your traditional television or movie screen.

And now Samsung and Viceland are stretching the limits by developing a series of groundbreaking VR experiences that explore the untapped potential of storytelling. Titled “Beyond the Frame,” the series allows filmmakers to use VR to not just change entertainment, but maybe even change the world.

Kicking off the series is a collaboration with Chris Milk — entrepreneur, filmmaker, and founder and CEO of Within. Milk was intent on removing viewers from the divide of a televised frame, eager to see if documentary filmmaking could go past its stationary concept of moving rectangles playing in sequences to elevate the experience by injecting viewers into a full 360-degree world in which to explore.

Enter VR. With the use of VR devices like the Samsung Gear VR, users can experience Milk’s documentary “Clouds Over Sidra,” a VR film about a 12-year-old girl named Sidra living in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Don the Gear VR headset and “Clouds Over Sidra” instantly becomes a fully immersive experience, transporting you into a foreign world many knew little about, or had access to, or even previously cared about until recently.

You don’t watch Sidra living through these hardships as a refugee; you experience them. Because of VR, Milk was able to create this powerful experience and bring it to the World Economic Forum in Davos where it could help influence others to change Sidra’s life and other refugees like her for the better.

Milk is contributing two more VR documentaries for “Beyond the Frame,” and both continue to bridge the gap between intellectualizing the human struggle and truly feeling it:

  • “Waves of Grace” is a documentary about an Ebola survivor caring for orphaned children in her Liberian village during the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
  • “My Mother’s Wing” follows a mother coping with the loss of her two children who were victims of a shelling attack at their school in Gaza.

These VR documentaries are beautiful, captivating, heart-wrenching, imaginative — and real. They embody the spirit Samsung and Viceland are looking for in developing VR projects with other inspiring artists. Projects that join us in our humanity by opening ourselves to the experience of others. These are the unique experiences VR has to offer, and we’ve only just begun.

To experience these projects in Samsung VR, go here.

For the Point of View documentary, go here.

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