Navigate Beck’s Performance of ‘Sound and Vision’ as a 360-Degree Interactive Video

Aki mentioned this in his previous post.  The 360 experience is now live.  The music is amazing, the 360 video execution and being able to control the view using your web camera and head is really cool.  No favicon, and the pre-populated twitter share with 142 characters demonstrates a lack of excellence.  Check out the 360 Experience

Photo Credit: Wired

Photo Credit: Wired

From Wired:

Beck’s astonishing 10-minute recreation of David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision” racked up more than 300 thousand Youtube views in the last week, and now Beck and music video director Chris Milk  (with the help of car maker Lincoln) are releasing an all-new way to experience the performance for all the fans who wish they could have been there. Call it the next best thing: an interactive 360-degree version of the performance that allows online viewers to navigate the concert similar to the way you navigate roads in Google Maps Street View, while surrounded by sound and movement.

“The perspective you have watching it in 360 and the way you move around is probably similar to how a player in a videogame moves around the space,” Beck told Wired. “But in this you’re obviously moving around a real space. It’s sort of imposing the way you navigate in a videogame into a real-life experience.”

Once the more than 160-piece musical ensemble starts playing, viewers can not only watch the show from pretty much any seat in the house but also hear the way it would’ve sounded from that particular spot, thanks to the immersive binaural sound. Perhaps the most fascinating part, however, is how it maps your movement in front of  a webcam to your perspective on the concert, so that when you turn your head, your view of Beck’s performance turns with you.

The overall experience that it creates is quite incredible, and may be the beginning of a whole new way to enjoy music online.

Of course, the project also came with its share of technical difficulties, particularly for the more innovative elements. For one, the microphone configurations necessary to collect binaural sound didn’t really exist. Normally binaural recording is achieved by taking recordings from model heads that have microphones in each ear, allowing the apparatus to hear and record sounds the way people do, with sound waves hitting each ear differently.

Those heads can only face in one direction at time, however, and Milk needed heads facing in every direction simultaneously. “To achieve that I knew we were going to need a head with ears all around its circumference,” said Milk, who made the video with producer “I didn’t realize I’d have to invent it.”

The result is a patent-pending, multi-axis head — visible in the final video for those who look closely — with a shell designed by Alan Scott of Hollywood creature and costume house Legacy Effects, who gave Milk the tech functionality he wanted in a cool aesthetic design.

Then there was the ordeal of finding the right 360-degree camera setup. Milk spent a lot of time online searching for an appropriate rig, but could only find 360-degree cameras that had a “nadir hole” — essentially the black circle at the top and bottom of most 360-degree videos. After a deep dive into Google, he managed to unearth a rig called360 Heros, which connected six GoPro cameras and eliminated the dreaded nadir hole. It had also never been used before, but it worked. “It’s quite a technological marvel,” said Milk, who previously directed videos for Kanye West and Arcade Fire. “And we were super excited to be the first production to use it.”

The “Sound and Vision” cover was recorded in a single live take, meaning that all of Milk’s cameras and microphones also couldn’t miss a beat.  For Beck, it was the culmination of two-and-half months of work at a marathon pace that included not only rearranging a classic Bowie song but also teaching a group of musicians to perform a song around a rotating stage, a set up that can make it difficult for various musicians to hear each other and stay in time. “It was sort of Napoleonic, the scale of bringing together that many people to learn and work together,” said Beck.

“The thing that’s always struck me is how different the sensory, especially auditory, experience is when you’re in the middle of the music with the musicians playing off each other, versus when you’re in the audience and have a wall of amplified sound coming at you from one direction,” said Milk. ”I wanted to recreate that perspective on a large scale so hundreds of people in a room, and eventually many more online, could get immersed in a phonic environment that they’d never normally have access to… I wanted the online experience to mirror the way we look and listen and feel when we’re surrounded by such dynamic stimulus.”

Once all the video and sound were captured, it had to be converted into the interactive online version, a process that took almost two additional weeks of programming following the show. The result could create a whole new experience for online music videos, and Beck says it’s the kind of experience that he says could find its way onto a future album or “trigger stuff that I’m not even aware of yet.”

“It was about going into something completely unknown and there were many times where it seemed like what we were trying to do musically couldn’t work,” Beck said. “It was this experiment [where] one aspect of it was to see if we could pull it off; and another aspect was to see, ‘Where does this lead?’”

Check out video of Beck’s cover of “Sound and Vision” below, then head here to get the full immersive experience.

via Navigate Beck’s Performance of ‘Sound and Vision’ as a 360-Degree Interactive Video | Underwire |