Workshop: Augmented & virtual realities
Hosts: Samuel Hefti, Swisscom (CH) & Gareth Deakin, OA Consulting (UK)
Will virtual reality change live events forever was the question posed in an informative and forward-looking panel on Thursday morning, led by hosts Deakin and Hefti.
“Even in 100 years [VR & AR], will never replace live music. The live experience will always be the best. You can’t capture the energy,” Hefti told delegates before outlining some of the ways that “breaking out of the rectangle” can, however, not only compliment the live business, but also help grow it.
Among the numerous examples used were an AR-enabled festival guide by Dutch Rose Media that gives customers additional audio content via their phones. The ability for music fans to virtually test-drive a venue or festival, possibly in remote or hard-to-reach locations, was also cited as one of the ways that immersive tech can drive engagement and ultimately boost ticket sales.
“As a marketing platform, it’s really valuable,” elaborated Deakin, looking ahead to a point in the not-too-distant future when volumetric videos (high-resolution, 3D content viewable from any angle) were a widely accessible commercial reality. “By that time, you hope, creatively we will be making experiences that are much more than just streaming a concert – because we’ll be able to. And then at that point potentially it’s totally new revenue streams,” he said.
Before then, there remains several hurdles to overcome – notably cost and technological constraints. “To this point, audio has been a poor part of VR experiences,” explained Deakin. “That’s changing enormously,” he said citing work by Dolby, Abbey Road and new start-ups to develop advanced spatial audio and make 360-degree VR concerts a more compelling proposition. “From a live entertainment point of view, it’s going to be one of the areas that’s going to become really compelling as it progresses,” he told delegates.
“It’s a completely all-new perspective, which very few people will ever experience in their life, but with virtual reality this is possible”
Other trends discussed included using VR live streams to give customers exclusive VIP access beyond the traditional live experience, such as backstage or front of stage. “What’s it like being next to a violinist or in front of a conductor at a classical concert?” asked Hefti, playing a 360-degree VR video demonstration. “It’s a completely all-new perspective, which very few people will ever experience in their life, but with virtual reality this is possible.”
The future possibilities of mixed reality VR and holographic live streams beamed into different locations were also raised. “We’re still very much at the early stages,” said Deakin. “But we’re moving really, really fast towards being able to do some really amazing things.”