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projects curated

MIT Open Documentary Lab


Drawing on MIT’s legacy of media innovation and its deep commitment to open and accessible information, the MIT Open Documentary Lab brings storytellers, technologists, and scholars together to explore new documentary forms with a particular focus on collaborative and interactive storytelling. The Lab understands documentary as a project rather than as a genre bound to a particular medium. In the spirit of MIT’s open courseware and open source software movements, the Open Documentary Lab is collaborative and committed to sharing knowledge, networks, and tools. The Lab is catalyst, partner and guide to the future of reality-based storytelling.

Let’s Not Forget the Climate Crisis

As we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, a global crisis that could have been largely prevented had we heeded the warning signs and acted sooner, another crisis continues to loom — the climate crisis.  Whether or not there is a correlation between these two, the pandemic is a stark reminder that ignoring the warning signs of the growing climate crisis and failing to act will have dire consequences. 

Documentarians, artists, and journalists have been sounding the alarm for years and continue to find innovative and effective ways of reporting, providing testimonies and experiences, and sharing information about our climate crisis. As this pandemic makes clear, we have a habit of not paying attention, caring, or changing our behavior even with blatant signs of an emerging crisis.  Some media makers are turning to new technologies as well as forgotten ones to draw our attention to this growing catastrophe and to highlight examples of people who are healing the earth. 

This playlist showcases projects related to environmental issues, including, among others, virtual experiences in our polluted oceans, augmented urban environments with distant sounds of climate destruction, and collective stories and observations by those most affected. By leveraging innovative techniques and technologies, these projects bring the spatial and temporal scale of climate change to our senses, bringing us face to face with the need to act now.


_Drop in the Ocean

“Drop in the Ocean” is a virtual reality experience that immerses the participants directly in the plastic pollution crisis plaguing the world's oceans.

Drop in the Ocean provides a powerful experience that immerses participants in the bottom of the ocean among sea animals and plastic making the problem of plastic pollution feel immediate and real.

_Only Expansion

Only Expansion is an augmented audio tour that mixes real-time urban sounds with recordings of geological landscapes in flux.

Only Expansion is highly innovative in its use of augmented reality. It mixes distant sounds of climate disasters with location based sounds entangling space and time and making the realities of climate change, often abstract and distant, immediate.

_This is Climate Change

This is Climate Change is a four-part series that gives us a direct 360° look at how humans are affecting multiple ecosystems on our planet.

Making its rounds in film festivals from Tribeca to Sheffield, This is Climate Change bridges investigative journalism with 360 video for viewers to witness four major ecological contexts of climate change: forest fires, desert famines, melting ice, and deforestation.

_Climate Witness Project

The Climate Witness project uses the power of storytelling for audiences to witness the impact climate change is already having to our lives.

This project is a wonderful example of co-creation between students, faculty, and conservationists and brings the ethos of the Witness Project across mediums ranging from short videos to 360 videos. Media education is at the core of its mission.

_Climate Crimes

Climate Crimes uses immersive 360° fulldome video to examine the complex and cyclical interconnections between aerosol pollutants, global warming and human migration.

Climate Crimes uses a full dome, immersive planetarium structure to give viewers an opportunity to reflect on their relationships to the planetary enviornment. This project incorporates design, enviornmental data, and narrative techniques all into one large-scale story.

_The Last Generation

An interactive web documentary about life on the Marshall Islands.

Last Generation is a stellar example of how journalists can use interactive documentary as a technique to tell online news stories. It also stands out for its choice to talk about climate change from the perspective of children. Produced by PBS Frontline, Last Generation won an Emmy award for New Approaches: Documentary as well as an award in the first ever World Press Photo Interactive category.


Interactive crowdsourced almanac "iSeeChange" documents climate change in small-town Colorado.

iSeeChange shows the power of crowdsourcing everyday human observation to track climate change at the micro level while showing patterns at the macro level and building community awareness.


InfoAmazonia provides news, reports, data and crowdsourced stories on endangered regions of the Amazon forest.

InfoAmazonia is a great example of a climate-themed co-created project, as it is continuously updated by a network of organizations and journalists. It is also the only online journalism platform that hosts interactive maps with continuously updated data and stories about various environmental topics in all nine Amazon basin countries.


A VR journey from the perspective of a tree.

Leverging the immersive, haptic power of VR, users are given the embodied experience of starting as a seed and growing to an adult tree until it burns up in a forest fire. This project uses tactile and sensory approaches to give us the perspective of a aesthetically connect us to nature and deeply consider our role in shaping it.

_Sandy Storyline

"Sandy Storyline" is a participatory documentary that collects and shares stories about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our neighborhoods, our communities and our lives.

This project set up a platform for people to tell their own stories about Hurricane Sandy bringing transparency and citizen journalism to the forefront.This project is an example of how web-based platforms can spur civic dialogue, archive events, and promote healing through storytelling.


projects curated by

Hugues Sweeney


projects curated by

Mandy Rose


projects curated by

Wendy Levy

33 Pl Playlists

33 playlists, a changing roster of prominent documentary makers, festival organizers, technologists and critics sharing their top picks.

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