Virtual Reality Will Change How We Experience Music
Virtual reality, along with its siblings, has the opportunity to profoundly change the way we interact with all things digital. As a visual medium, we often don't think about the impact on audio, but it plays a significant role nevertheless. When it comes to music—and music videos—the possibilities are enormous.
360-degree video, on it own, provides a more robust experience with music. Instead of just listening to a song or watching its music video, you can sit within the experience yourself.
Saint Motel's "Move" is one such example, where they've rendered an all-encompassing motion graphics experience that you can view from any angle. In a VR headset, your gaze determines what part of the video you see. If you're just watching it below on your computer, you can drag around the video with your mouse to look in different directions, or use the directional pad in the top-left (on mobile you need to open it up in the YouTube app).
This not only allows you more freedom to experience the music and its video counterpart the way you want, but also discover new things with subsequent viewings. It also allows the creators more freedom to design multiple compelling visual moments that happen at the same time. Perspective doesn't have so many limitations in virtual reality. The creator can offer multiple ideas at once and the viewer can experience as he or she prefers.
Virtual reality offers an extensive toolset for creating amazing experiences in real time. One such tool, Tilt Brush, created by Google, is an amazing painting app for StreamVR and the HTC Vive that inspired a pretty amazing music video.
Ball Park Music's "Whipping Boy" (below) was created entirely in the Tilt Brush app. The artwork was created by Sam Cromack, the band's front man, and you can actually experience it yourself if you have an HTC Vive.
The video is just the Tilt Brush artwork captured while being viewed in time with the music. A human wearing the Vive served as the "camera," choosing what to look at during relevant points in the song. Jaymis Loveday directed the video, so it wasn't just a wandering glance with no forethought. You can see how much work went into creating something like this, but it's simply a prepared VR environment with its spectator's view recorded in real time. This music video demonstrates what amazing work can be produced in virtual reality with a free app, and how fans can experience the artwork themselves within the headset.
Experiencing live music often costs a good amount of money, and we can probably thank Ticketmaster for most of that. But a company called TheWaveVR wants to use virtual reality headsets to bring more people to live events at a more affordable price. Spatial limitations are obviously less relevant. To give you an idea of the scale, they hope to someday throw the first million-person rave.
Their setup at VRLA's 2016 Summer Expo (below) isn't fully indicative of the platform, as the environment exists in virtual reality, but the DJs in the show were using the platform to create the effects you see in the video. When using the platform, however, its participants will watch a similar show in a digital, holographic world instead.
Music was one of the first formative mediums. It has shown its power to change how you think, start political movements, and even improve your health. We've seen health applications with VR, too, and that's just one aspect of how significant it is as a new technology. Combined, music has an incredible opportunity to evolve in this new reality. All of this is just the beginning.