SPECIAL: “Bubba Blackwell: The 360° Experience”


FOLEY, AL (WKRG) — Millions around the world have seen Alabama daredevil Bubba Blackwell launch himself into history with his death-defying stunts and record-breaking jumps.

No one, however, has seen him quite like this.

For the first time at WKRG-TV, a news report was shot, edited, produced and aired — both on-air and online — in 360-degrees.  You could say that Blackwell, a “maniac” who performs dangerous stunts atop Harley-Davidson motorcycles, was a fitting choice for our history-making 360° report.

Blackwell grew up in Bon Secour, Alabama, where he idolized motorcycle daredevil legend Evil Knievel.  His dream of eclipsing the famed stuntman was acheived multiple times over three-decades, with Blackwell breaking many of the records set by Knievel.

Blackwell is still active on the circuit, performing in shows across the country.  Once a year he returns for a hometown performance at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival in Foley, just down the street from where he first hopped on the bike in Bon Secour.

News 5 attended Blackwell’s latest homecoming performance at the festival in May to produce our first-ever 360° report.  Multiple 360° cameras were strapped to Blackwell’s helmet, handle bar, and crowd barricade to provide News 5 viewers with a unique perspective.

The idea was to give everyone the feeling of what it’s like to be on the bike with Bubba.

Blackwell had limited space to work with at the festival grounds, but still put on a show for the crowds and our 360° cameras.  His signature jump, jokingly, came over three toy helicopters — after teasing the crowd that day of intentions to jump over three actual helicopters.

After the show, News 5 processed all the 360° videos into multiple editing platforms for a feat never-before accomplished by a television station in Alabama or on the Gulf Coast.   News 5 produced “Bubba Blackwell: 360° Experience,” for online viewing on a smartphone, tablet, computer or virtual reality headset, but also formatted the picture for broadcast on television.

On TV, the report uses a controller to spin around the camera and show the most exhilarating moments from Blackwell’s show.  Viewers can see the controller in the bottom-left corner of the screen as it moves around the shot for them.

However, the best way to experience the story is on a platform that enables the 360° experience, such as a smartphone or VR headset.

The report can be watched below on the WKRG Facebook Page and WKRG YouTube channel:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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