REAL WORLD VR: MUSIC IN VIRTUAL REALITY

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Virtual Reality working at VP, it’s this: The more I know, the more I need to know. As an industry in its infancy, there seems to be limitless applications for this new medium. The most recent Real World VR event, which ran on Tuesday the 21st of February, was no exception. The expert speakers each brought a unique perspective to music in Virtual Reality and were complemented by live performances and VR experiences on the evening.

Darius Kedros at Real World VR, hosted by Visual Playground
Darius Kedros speaks at Real World VR

Darius, founder of Sonic State Design, provided a theoretical introduction into audio. Through his explanation, he outlined how it is essential to capture a realistic sound image. Various processes, including rendering the sound as a head tracked binaural mix, ensure the VR user can become fully immersed in their experience.

The positioning of microphones is particularly interesting in VR. The camera operates as the user’s head, so the microphone must be attached as close as possible to the camera in a locked off position. As Darius said, if the microphone is moved too far away, it’s like “your ears are dislocated from your head”. The Virtual Barber Shop by QSound Labs is an excellent example of Binaural audio technology, which Darius cited. You can take a listen here.

The second speaker on the night, Joel De Ross, is the founder of Metavents – an immersive planning, simulation and risk management platform optimized for Virtual Reality. Through his software, Joel illustrated VR’s ability to have colossal impact on event planning – specifically festivals as fundraisers like Live Aid and Global Citizen Festival.

Joel De Ross Speaks at Real World VR, hosted by Visual Playground
Joel De Ross Speaks at Real World VR, hosted by Visual Playground

With Metavents, all logistics – from financial to risk management – are easily determined in a collaborative VR planning environment. For example, organisers can save countless hours travelling on the road to venues by inspecting a location with the help of a VR headset. This is just one way in which VR is being used to speed up processes and, in the case of humanitarian aid, allow event organisers to provide quick relief to those affected by natural disasters.

Virtual Reality is well known for its ability to elicit empathy from viewers. This could be through a 360 camera capturing the reality of someone’s circumstances or through a VR simulation of how donor money will be used. Joel’s presentation showcased the meaningful ways that Virtual Reality can contribute to the global economy and individual’s lives.

Ben Andrews and Emma Roberts Speak at Real World VR, hosted by Visual Playground
Ben Andrews and Emma Roberts Speak at Real World VR, hosted by Visual Playground

The third expert speakers for the night, VR producer Emma Roberts and Ben Andrews, discussed their collaborative works The Moon Is Gone, All The Kings Are Dead and AllTheStarsTheyBleedTogether. The latter was a commissioned mixed reality work for Melbourne Music Week. As experimental artists, they explored sensory engagement and deprivation. This was brought to life in the intimate experience they presented on the night – a gesture towards allthestarstheybleedtogether, which used scent to heighten the immersive visuals, timed perfectly to a live musical performance.

The night was rounded out with Neda and Marrs who spoke about their experience creating 360 music videos and who also performed their new single “I Miss You”. Neda and Marrs have filmed both live action and animated 360 videos. Neda and Marrs highlighted the production and post-production challenges of both. For live action 360, this included laborious set builds and limited takes. When it came to animation, extensive render times were a drawback. But both were adamant that they would continue creating VR music content for the foreseeable future with Neda stating it was “our responsibility to [educate] the community”.

Neda and Marrs speak at Real World VR, hosted by Visual Playground

Music in VR was discussed and experienced in so many different capacities at Real World VR, providing greater insight into the way audio functions in the burgeoning medium. The live music performance and AR experience provided tangible examples of VR and AR’s immersive nature, giving the audience a sense of all that the future holds.

Nicola Nemaric