Within Original: New Video for Matthew Dear’s ‘What You Don’t Know’ is a Musical Journey Into the Heart of WebVR

4 min readOct 24, 2019

Created by Within collaborators jonobr1 and mr.doob, the interactive video lets users create a singular track out of Dear’s elusive shapeshifting beats

You’re in the center of an oscillating sphere that functions like a compass. Above you is a pulsing liquid orb that beams the words to avant-pop artist and DJ Matthew Dear’s single, “What You Don’t Know,” off of his latest album, “Bunny.” An elastic band encircles you, like a sonic waveform, it bounces and sways to the beat.

This enveloping universe of sound is yours to control. Choose from one of eight vertical lines to manipulate the track — make it speed up, slow down, mute it, or scratch it like a DJ at a midnight dance party. Zoom in to the center of the orb and the music becomes louder, speed away from it and the sound fades.

The possibilities are endless as you create your own virtual reality remix. The three-minute song is set to loop, so as soon as it finishes you can start all over. Each creation is ephemeral. No two tracks will ever be the same.

This technological feat — one of only a handful of real-time immersive experiences created with WebVR — is a Within original, and was created by Within collaborators, jonobr1 (Jono Brandel) and mr.doob.

The possibilities are endless as you create your own virtual reality remix.

Still image from the WebVR experience “What You Don’t Know”, by jonobr1 and mr.doob, now available on Within.

Brandel, who is grounded in the disciplines of graphic design and computer programming, called “What You Don’t Know” a dream project in a recent interview with Within.

“Matthew Dear has been an awesome collaborator because he’s given us his heart and soul and source files to work with,” Brandel said.

He means that last part literally. Dear, who is a mainstay on the label Ghostly International, which released “Bunny,” handed over the stems to the single, “What You Don’t Know,” which in turn allowed Brandel and mr.doob to break the song up into its various parts — drum sounds, melody, vocals, etc. — in order to enable the user to deconstruct and rebuild the song according to their own creative whims.

Screenshot of stems cut into 63 distinct clips in Ableton Live

“We were given eight WAV files that are the length of the full song,” Brandel says, explaining that he cut up each verse and chorus into 5 and ⅓-second chunks, which are on beats of four. “And so for the experience we’re loading 63 discrete mp3 files that represent every section of every instrument in the song, and that’s what makes it possible for you to manipulate it as you see fit.”

The experience is naturally democratized because it was created on the web, which means that it can be accessed using a VR device, a smartphone or a computer.

This is powerful, says Brandel, because it gives users the tools to understand what immersive content can deliver even if they don’t have a VR headset. That way a user can become grounded in the technology before actually trying it.

At this point in time, WebVR is still a burgeoning technology for creators. You can watch 360-degree VR videos online without a VR device, but those experiences don’t allow you to alter them in real-time, like you can with “What You Don’t Know.”

A 360-degree screen-grab from “What You Don’t Know”. The video is one of only a handful of real-time immersive experiences created with WebVR.

Currently Within is the only distribution platform that hosts experiences made in WebVR, which makes this particular Within Original even more exciting.

“Right now in the web community this is a specialized niche,” says Brandel, adding that he hopes this project raises visibility for WebVR and inspires other VR creators to take their skills to the web, or interested filmmakers to consider using web technologies to realize upcoming projects.

It’s challenging to create portability in the virtual space, Brandel says, which is why he considers WebVR an ideal mix: practitioners can create engaging interactive real-time experiences that can be used anywhere at any time. It’s a philosophy that Within also supports.

“Within is using the most cutting-edge tools in all of their platforms to harness and empower the creator,” Brandel says.

Check out “What You Don’t Know” for yourself at http://with.in/wydk/. For more information on Matthew Dear and his latest album, “Bunny”, head over to Ghostly International: https://ghostly.com/products/bunny. Finally, if you’re interested to learn more about WebVR check out the informational page http://webvr.rocks/ and join the discussion with other creators on Slack: https://webvr.rocks/slack