How I Accidentally Created the World’s First-of-Its-Kind Visual Album in Dolby Atmos
I just created and released the world’s first-of-its-kind Dolby Atmos visual album. I know, it’s a pretty bold claim to make, but I’ve tried really hard to debunk it and I just can’t. Major artists from Beyoncé to Halsey have released visual albums before. But mine is the first cohesive story-driven, interactive visual album to be mixed in Dolby Atmos.
This really happened by accident, to be honest. It all started with a simple idea to create a Dolby Atmos visual album in web3 that was interactive and gamified. I thought, if I’m going to mix my album in Dolby Atmos then I have to make it matter to my audience by making it visual. I also thought that a Dolby Atmos visual album is so cutting edge that it would be impossible that anyone in web3 has done this yet. And web3 tokenization would allow me to easily gamify the experience. It all seemed like a no-brainer and pretty unique to web3.
Little did I know that this idea is so unique that it has never even been done before, outside of web3. It’s just never been done before. Period.
And what’s funnier about this revelation is that I didn’t realize it until the very end of the project when we were having issues rendering the five Dolby Atmos mixed songs with the video. That’s when I looked over at one of the music mixers on the project, Dave Way, who was working on the film mix with me, and said, “Wait, why doesn’t this workflow exist? Has no one rendered a Dolby Atmos visual album before?” And he looked at me and said ever so nonchalantly, “I don’t think so.”
That’s when the realization hit me — I had just created the first Dolby Atmos story-driven, interactive visual album in the world with a multi-mix workflow — meaning we had multiple engineers mixing multiple songs for one cohesive album in Dolby Atmos vs one engineer mixing the typical film mix in Dolby Atmos where music is just one component. The rendering process for this workflow was so challenging because it really hadn’t been done before in this way. Talk about a pleasant surprise, especially after a good week or so of working around the clock barely sleeping.
So why hasn’t this been done before? The Dolby Atmos format was only created in 2012 and only in recent years have music artists started mixing their music in Dolby Atmos. To a lot of artists and mixers, it’s actually still seen as a novelty and not really necessary to mix music in this format.
I think that this last sentiment, of music mixed in Dolby Atmos being a novelty, is the main reason why no one has produced a visual album of this kind in Dolby Atmos. Because this format was mainly intended for film and games, not music. For me, this is why when I approached mixing my music in Dolby Atmos, I immediately thought well let’s make this technology matter in relationship to music. Let’s make it visual and interactive.
I’ve always been a huge fan of movies in Dolby Atmos. I would choose a Dolby Atmos theater over an IMAX theater all day. Maybe it’s because I’m a producer, musician, and audio engineer so sound is really important to me. Dolby Atmos just sounds so much more immersive than traditional surround sound and I knew this would be the perfect format to present a visual album.
But I also knew that if I was going to utilize an immersive sound experience then it needed to be immersive on all levels — not just Dolby Atmos sound but, interactive elements that could be gamified with web3 tokenization. I wanted to make sure that the audience felt completely immersed in the experience so they could actually interact with it.
I created a puzzle game that was both visual and aural. My guiding light in this project was to make Dolby Atmos and web3 enhanced experiences matter to the consumer — my audience.
Why buy a digital collectible of my music when they can just stream it? Creating an immersive, gamified experience around my music through an interactive, visual album in Dolby Atmos just seemed like the obvious choice to me.
I wanted to utilize this technology as a storytelling device that was a functional production tool, not frivolous for the sake of being mixed in Dolby Atmos.
But I guess this was not that obvious to everyone else because Dolby Atmos visual albums have never been done like this before. Making my first Web3 music collection matter to consumers was definitely a driving force behind every step in producing visuals that accompany my music in this format.
Yes, this is a Dolby Atmos visual album, but additionally, it is an interactive and gamified experience that is being driven by my need to innovate utilizing a new technology — web3 tokenization.
So I turned my 5-song album into a murder mystery with a clear storyline with clues and puzzles that could be scattered throughout the story visually with hidden anagrams and messages. I already write songs as if I’m writing them for a movie. I’m a huge cinephile so this was not difficult to adapt my music to a murder mystery plot. My music was actually calling for it.
Integrating web3 technology into this experience was always front of mind for me. So I made the experience a token-gated, multi-level puzzle game with achievement tokens. You can collect, solve puzzles, and watch the visuals while listening to my Dolby Atmos mixed music as you go through this gamified experience.
By token-gating, I mean that if you want to access the full experience, then you had to acquire the web3 digital collectible aka token aka (don’t roll your eyes or hate me for saying it) NFT associated with this album. And in order to advance to another level of the experience, you’d have to solve the puzzles which would be rewarded with another free achievement token you’d earn by solving the level you are on. This in turn would then unlock the next token-gated portal that contains the next level.
I think that’s why I’m so proud of it. It feels like I’m presenting something new, something unexpected and yet familiar at the same time. And that’s a hard combination to pull off when you’re talking about a project that is dealing in the realm of innovation and cutting-edge technology.
The Dolby Atmos visual album and the interactive web3 experience that is powered by tokenization in this way is something no one has ever done before, but everyone is familiar with games, music, and visual storytelling. So I took what is familiar and flipped it on its head. I wanted to achieve a familiarity that would allow everyone to understand why web3 technology and Dolby Atmos music mixes matter beyond just novelty.
In the end, my goal was to create something that is not just an immersive Dolby Atmos visual album but also an interactive and gamified experience driven by a fundamental belief in pushing the envelope with new technology — web3 tokenization.
I hope my experience here inspires others to keep pushing the boundaries of technology and art whether it’s Dolby Atmos visual albums or web3 token-gated experiences, and never stop innovating by letting the imagination run wild outside the bounds of the ordinary. Who knows what you might create?
So, what is this experience really like? You can try it for yourself by minting the digital collectible for my Prologue Visual Album Experience here — https://app.manifold.xyz/c/prologue-visual-album
And then you can unlock the experience with that digital collectible token and jump into the experience here — https://felicelazae.xyz/unlock-prologue
And if you don’t know what “minting” is or how to “mint” a digital collectible, I’ll show you how! Watch this video —
Who knows, maybe Dolby Atmos will become a must-have for all visual albums. And maybe we’ll all look back at this as the beginning of Dolby Atmos and web3 becoming tools musicians and artists of different mediums can use to create innovative experiences for their audiences. Now that would be pretty cool.