Google Cultural Institute Introduces 360-Degree Videos of Virtual Concerts

By Steve Nagel on Dec 03, 2015 03:01 AM EST

If front-row seating to a symphony orchestra isn’t impressive enough, the Google Cultural Institute now offers a new option: simply go inside the orchestra (virtually). Using specialized cameras, placed on stage amidst active performances, the Google Cultural Institute has released a series of 360-degree videos of virtual concerts that allow users to choose their preferred angle of appreciation, all within a YouTube window.

The project, titled "Step on Stage with the Performing Arts," exhibits a series of trial implementations of the new technology. Under the advice, "best experienced with headphones", the Google Cultural Institute wants you, the virtual patron, to feel as immersed in the performance as possible.  

In the "music" example on the project's website, a dramatic introduction conveys the strikingly lifelike experience of entering the lobby of Carnegie Hall, and from there to the Isaac Stern Auditorium. Toggling between three cameras, users can then witness a 360-degree video: an interactive performance by The Philadelphia Orchestra of Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt (with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting). The stunning three-dimensional experience removes the veil that has always existed between the stage and the audience.  With infinite angles available, the virtual concerts show off the unique personalities of the performers, while also allowing users to get a feel for the particulars of a performance -- as opposed to the seemingly unified, forward-aimed product we've come to rely on.  

According to the New York Times, The Google Cultural Institute "made its name ... by digitizing and displaying the collections of more than 800 art museums and historical archives."  This earlier project came from Google's desire to share the arts' most valuable cultural assets to users who otherwise might not visit the physical exhibits.  Amit Sood, the Institute's director, hopes that this latest project will do the same, and beyond that, will encourage an enhanced awareness of the capabilities of the Internet, which he argues is about "more than just capturing a video and uploading it to YouTube." Unlimited interactivity, after all, seems to be what Google's farthest sights are set on.

Among some other 360-degree videos and virtual concerts offered by the Google Cultural Institute are a rehearsal of Henry V by The Royal Shakespeare Company, and Benjamin Millepied's "Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward" by the Paris Opera Ballet.

What performances would you like to be immersed in? Tell us in the comments section below.

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TagsGoogle Cultural Institute, Peer Gynt, Edvard Grieg, Philadelphia Orchestra, Carnegie Hall

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