The last few days have been a heady mix of live music and virtual reality at VRHAM!. Miro Shot a band that incorporates mixed reality tech into their performances invited me to tech support and VJ with them on stage. The result was something very special.
Miro Shot's show combines music and immersive visuals. Each audience member wears a virtual reality (VR) mask to see and interact with the visuals while the audio comes from the band playing live in front of the audience.
The VR visuals take the audience on a journey through surreal landscapes with overlayed footage from a camera mounted on the mask. The software was developed by Guillaume Couche of Wolf In Motion and jointly directed by Guillaume and Roman Rappak the lead singer of Miro Shot.
The VR headsets worn by the audience are networked to receive special effect commands triggered from a custom app and a midi controller. The band's VJ plays an important role insuring a good mix of immersive VR content and live video is streamed to the audience.
The software has been developed in Unity allowing for release across multiple platforms, a useful feature considering the often last minute logistical problems at events.
Due to budget and hardware limitations the maximum size of the audience was 25 people, this did have the benefit of giving the experience a personal feel with each member of the audience sitting a few metres from the band. In the future the audience size will grow and will hopefully incorporate people tuning in from home with their own VR headsets.
Miro Shot is a collective of musicians and software developers that are exploring the new mediums created by the advancement of technology such as VR. Another important part of the collective is the business development team working on sponsorships and funding.
The core principal of the band is to be experimental. The format of the shows remained the same, but small changes were made and feedback taken from the audience at the end of each show. For example in one show the audience came in to the space and were given a VR headset to put on. Once the audience were all happily exploring the visuals, the band then came on stage and started to play. I would then turn on the camera in the headset so that the audience could see the band playing. The visuals would then change to a virtual reality landscape and the band would exit the stage before the audience took their masks off. This confused the audience somewhat as they were not sure if the band had ever really been there. Feedback from the audience meant that we should change the format so that the band was still on stage when the VR masks came off, then the band played a song with visuals on a projector. This gave the audience a chance to participate by showing their appreciation at the end.
The audience were often surprised was the length of the show. The VR experience was only about seven minutes long. There were a few reasons for this. Firstly, being in VR can be uncomfortable for some people. The amount of content meant that three experience needed to be short to keep it fresh. Another time shortening factor was devices overheating and battery draining, although with careful hardware monitoring we didn't have any problems. The final factor was that with limited audience capacity we had to do a lot of shows to get the audience numbers up. Keeping it short meant a lot more people could see it.
Miro Shot are definitely one to watch over the coming months as they explore the world of VR at live events. Could this mixture of spatial computing and music be a leading format for live events? And if so, what exactly will it look like? If you follow Miro Shot you’re sure to get a glimpse of the future.