Preview: Five music-driven VR experiences will debut at Viacom in a final demo day

The VR prototypes were produced throughout Viacom’s Music + VR Fellowship in partnership with NYC Media Lab.

The Viacom Music + VR Fellowship with Viacom’s New Experience Team (NEXT) and NYC Media Lab encourages the development of premier music-driven VR content for audiences. Recruited from universities in the NYC Media Lab consortium, six graduate and undergraduate student fellows worked throughout the summer to produce individual VR experiences centered on a piece of music from Viacom’s library.

In a final demo day at Viacom on Wednesday, August 9th, the participating fellows will showcase their prototypes, each produced for the HTC Vive. Below, you’ll find more information about the prototypes to be on view, including preview images of the experiences, the selected songs that serve as source material, and how the fellows are using music as their primary creative inspiration.

Mikei Huang

Selected Song Title: Beach

Artist: Ary Warnaar
Composer: Ary Warnaar
Song Release Year: 2015

“This track is cute, bouncy, and oozes with rainbows. It invites player into a world full of excitement and happiness. It works really well in VR because it encourages player to be adventurous and try new things that are impossible in real life.”

How is your VR experience altering the emotional experience of the song for listeners?

To recreate and visualize the cheerful impression of the track, I designed a colorful world that is constantly reactive to the music, with many animated dancing props and particle explosions. Players can also interact with physics-simulated objects in the space to produce sound effects that goes along with the music. The direct interaction with music facilitates a deeper experience for players.


Juan Jose Egúsquiza

Selected Song Title: Red Sky Morning

Artist: John Richard O’Hallaron, David John Vanacore
Composer: John Richard O’Hallaron, David John Vanacore
Song Release Year: 2017

“My main idea was to use light as the protagonist; to design a scene where light alongside the track could work together. By adding different sound elements, it evolves from a minimal start to an energetic end while always maintaining the intensity.”

How is your VR experience altering the emotional experience of the song for listeners?

I wanted to create a visual representation of the song, so in that sense, both the song and the visuals work together as one creating an atmosphere for the viewer to feel. In addition to this, the use of a “virtual space” and a sequence of “laser lights” completes this experimental audio-visual sensitive experience.


Danny Dang

Selected Song Title: Afternoon Rush Hour

Artist: Stuart Hart
Composer: Alexei Misoul, Stuart Hart
Song Release Year: 2015

“Afternoon Rush Hour creates a fast paced environment for groups to work together. I wanted an upbeat track with many stems I could work with. Because the groups will be working together to perform the song, I wanted a lighter song to reflect the fun and silly interactions from the game.”

In what ways can making music more visually interactive with VR change the music experience?

VR gives the players a unique listening experience that is bound to their movements and interactions with each other. I designed an experience where the full song is not immediately available to listen to. By having players work together to piece together the song, they can fully appreciate the individual stems and layers that go into this piece of music and also appreciate what it sounds like as a whole.


Corey Bertelsen & Chao Jin

Selected Song Title: Dreaming Awake

Artist: Elias Arts Music Library
Composer: Derek Whitacre with Bacca Green and Miriya Rayne
Song Release Year: 2016

“Our project provides a creative and intuitive way for people to remix songs. Players can choose different stems and are free to draw them in VR space. We picked Dreaming Awake sets a mellow, dreamy mood for our guests.”

In what ways can making music more visually interactive with VR change the music experience?

We are enjoying making playful ways to create and visualize music. Traditional remixing can be intimidating; it requires a lot of equipment and esoteric knowledge, and we want to make it easy and fun for non-musicians. Our project aims to allow people to actually create and inhabit a musical space, in a way that’s only possible in VR.


Or Fleisher

Selected Song Title: Feel me

Artist: Jamie Alan Christopherson
Composer: Jamie Alan Christopherson
Song Release Year: 2016

“I was looking for a minimalistic, acoustic track that would feature not more than two or three instruments. The experience encourages the viewer to observe the character as it goes through the journey. VR holds the ability to make the viewer reflect emotion from the experience onto themselves, resulting in a strong emotional experience.”

How is your VR experience altering the emotional experience of the song for listeners?

‘Path’ is one man’s journey through time in a surreal world that blurs the lines between 2D and 3D. Given that, the music lays out the episodic nature of the experience as the character moves between scenes. The experience uses the audio throughout to alter, affect and drive the animations and effects, building together the ambience and emotion of this journey.

For more information regarding Viacom’s Music + VR Fellowship, read the press release here, or contact Alexis Avedisian, NYC Media Lab sCommunications Manager (alexis@nycmedialab.org).

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