360-degree video puts you in a bombed-out Syrian war zone

A new 360-degree, 4K video lets you see the destruction of Syria's civil war firsthand on any virtual reality (VR) headset. It was shot by Syria's Smart News Agency between May and July in the city of Jisr al-Choughour, at the nation's northeastern frontier near Turkey, according to Le Parisien. The city of 40,000 is in near-complete ruins and most of the residents have fled after it was taken by rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda. The video (below) was captured by a six-camera rig mounted on the photographer's head, then stitched together at Okio Studios in Paris.

You can watch the video on YouTube at up to 4K resolution and view all around you by swiping or mousing the video. However, the best way to watch it is with a VR headset like the Oculus DK2 or Samsung's Gear VR. With the Gear VR on, I was able to see the destruction and isolation all around me, an unsettling way to experience such an event. However, it's another example that VR can go well beyond gaming and has enormous potential for immersive storytelling -- even when the stories are hard to watch.