What’s really happening in Seattle’s protest zone? Photographer creates 360-degree immersive tour - GeekWire
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A screen grab from a 360-degree photo showing one area of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood that has been the focus of national attention during protests against police brutality. (Photo courtesy of Paolo Tosolini)

Troubled by news reports about events allegedly taking place in an area of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in recent days, Paolo Tosolini left his 凯发官网登录手机版home in Bellevue, Wash., on Sunday and ventured across Lake Washington to “seek the truth.”

Paolo Tosolini. (Photo courtesy of Paolo Tosolini)

He entered the area now called “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or “CHOP,” equipped with 360-degree photography equipment to capture the scene and provide his own report through images for those who can’t make it in person.

The area, which has also been called the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or “CHAZ,” by those who have organized there in recent weeks, was set up in the wake of prolonged protests after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May.

Despite reports of peaceful activities including public speaking, music, street art, food handouts and more, the area where Seattle Police abandoned a precinct to deescalate tensions has been singled out by media outlets such as Fox News. Fox apologized over the weekend after The Seattle Times reported that Fox was using digitally altered images to report on what was happening in Seattle.

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President Trump has also been tweeting about it all, calling it a “Radical Left takeover” of the city as he lobs cross-country criticisms at Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for allowing it to happen.

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“The key was to see with my eyes and to help others witness what’s going on in Seattle through immersive technology,” said Tosolini, a tech veteran who runs his own agency called Tosolini Productions, to help businesses better tell their story through emerging media.

Tosolini spent two hours roaming several blocks to capture 360-degree images with his Ricoh Theta Z1 camera at the end of an Insta360 ONE R Invisible Selfie Stick. Using his smartphone as a remote, Tosolini’s camera captured two simultaneous 180-degree images of each location he shot. The images were stitched together on his iPhone and later uploaded to SeekBeak, a virtual tour software platform.

A screen grab showing all the locations in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood where Paolo Tosolini shot 360-degree images. (Courtesy of Paolo Tosolini)

Tosolini’s tour includes 19 immersive images. Each is plotted on Google Maps so viewers can orient themselves in the neighborhood. The images show crowds of people milling about in the streets or lounging on the play field at Cal Anderson Park.

He also used a tool called Display.land, which makes 3D captures of physical spaces, to provide a unique view of a wall of graffiti. A person can be seen praying on her knees in front of one section.

Part of a 3D image showing a makeshift memorial and graffiti in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Paolo Tosolini)

Tosolini said he saw no violence or anyone carrying weapons when he was inside CHOP. His only apprehension in visiting was his ongoing concern about COVID-19. He wore a mask while there.

People whom he rarely interacts with on Facebook popped up to thank him for the report and for showing what’s going on. Some were older and had no plans to venture to Capitol Hill, he said, but they told him that through his photos they could better see what’s happening.

“I saw a lot of love, peace, expressions of a desire to talk, to engage. I saw a line of people donating goodies and food at a donation station,” he said. “I feel good about having been there and I feel good about being able to share my experience.”

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