Virtual reality music videos are already becoming a thing thanks to the advent of 360 video, but in typical Draw & Code style we want to take things a step further. Since 2014 we have been talking to genre-spanning band All We Are about their vision for a VR video – and finally this project is starting to take shape. You can see it for yourself during a gathering we are hosting for Liverpool’s Binary Festival.
On May 24th and 25th Liverpool’s digital community is coming together to shout about the amazing work that is happening here at the first edition of Binary Festival. Centred around Baltic Creative, Binary is the event that Liverpool has been crying out for. Collectively this city is rather brilliant at technology, but we don’t always get that point across. With all of Liverpool’s digital community united by one event it is time to get the message out that we are a tech cluster that can rival the best.
Since then we have filmed the band performing in their gloriously odd private rehearsal space. For this we eschewed the 360 camera rig and instead we wielded a Microsoft Kinect v2 – yes, the thing that is most commonly used to facilitate dance games for the XBox. We are not the first to use the powerful Kinect for non-gaming uses – there has even been a music video made using it – but we want to take things up a level by presenting the ensuing film in fully interactive virtual reality.
Re-appropriating gaming tech to other interesting uses is already part of our modus operandi. Indeed, this is the second virtual reality film project we have worked on using very similar techniques. During 2014 and 2015 we lent our expertise to what may have been the world’s first light-field virtual reality documentary. Collaborating with Australian video artist Lauren Moffatt and commissioned by FACT, this was an experimental piece of work called The Oculist Reason that focused upon a powerful mural that tells the tale of Liverpool’s culture of resistance; a spirit that seems as applicable as ever in the days after the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquest.
The domed mural is hidden from public view in what was the Liverpool School for the Blind, which happens to be part of the building where Draw & Code reside. The spectacular room and interviews with people who worked there were captured using a combination of 3D scanning technology with textures provided from a cine-camera to provide a feel of how the building would have been presented during its 20th century prime. The fully interactive virtual film was presented within a spectacular immersive sound installation constructed by Kinicho that premiered in Berlin during the autumn.
This time around we are exploring how 3D sensor technology when combined with virtual reality has the potential to not only put you in the centre of the action but to give you full control of what you are seeing. At the Binary Festival workshop All We Are will be joining us in the Draw & Code studio to talk about their vision for performance in the virtual age. Meanwhile you can also tinker with the technology behind the experience including the Microsoft Kinect and the HTC Vive that will be used to display the experience. There will also be distinctly non-virtual snacks and drinks.