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Virtual Reality Puts Music Lovers in Center of the Action

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Many musicians are turning to new forms of technology to reach more people through their smartphone and electronic devices.

Performers are using virtual reality (VR), 360-degree cameras and other tools in hopes of providing the best musical experience possible. A 360-degree camera can take a video or still photograph of everything in its line of sight.

Some music experts believe VR could greatly change our musical experiences in the future. One form of the technology can let users attend virtual concerts, where they become part of the action. These performances seem to come to life through video and VR glasses.

Members of the rock band Queen created one such concert last year in cooperation with Google’s online store, Google Play. The project recreated the famous Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a music video.

The group first released the song more than 40 years ago.

A computer program or app can let people experience different parts of the music video by moving around and touching things in virtual reality. The interactive experience results from a combination of computer animation, 3D images, and 360-degree video technology.

Some musicians and groups are now using VR as part of their live performances.

American country music singer Eric Church has launched a full VR concert experience that was recorded during an actual performance last year. People can buy the experience and view it on their personal devices with the help of VR headsets.

Church said it was his first time using VR technology to provide a 360-degree view of a live show.

'There was a camera between me and my drummer, and you can kind of turn around and see the drummer and turn back around and see me,' he said. 'It's like you're in the middle of everything.'

The rock group Young the Giant recently shot a live performance in Los Angeles with 360-degree cameras above, below and throughout the crowd. The performance was made into a music video for the song “Silvertongue.” The video shows the band’s members and other people painted in bright colors as they dance to the music.

Band member Payam Doostzadeh said it is not easy recreating a real concert for somebody watching the experience on a smartphone.

'You're viewing it on a smaller screen, and maybe you don't have headphones on, so you're not hearing the full sound,' he said.

YouTube is currently one of the biggest providers of music videos on the internet. The website says about 60 percent of YouTube viewing now happens on devices – not computers or televisions.

To make these experiences better and more exciting, music artists are turning to mobile-friendly tools.

Pop singer Ingrid Michaelson made a music video using only Snapchat filters. The video, called “Hell No,” is filmed in phone-style view as a way to connect with Snapchat users.

The electronic band Gorillaz released a six-minute VR music video that became the most successful VR video debut on YouTube. It was seen more than three-million times in 48 hours.

Another band, Saint Motel, is creating music videos with what it calls a 'virtualizer.” This method combines lyric and live performance videos and images in a 360-degree video environment.

Band member AJ Jackson said Saint Motel does not plan to stop creating traditional music videos. But he added that smartphones have provided many exciting ways to experiment, create and find new fans.

“It's a lot of people's first VR experience,' Jackson said. 'You've got to take it slow and you've got to make sure everyone's first experience is great.”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on information from the Associated Press and other sources. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

virtual reality n. photographic images, sound or video created by a computer to seem like reality

interactive - adj. enabling people to talk with each other or do things together

animation n. way of making a movie by using a series of drawings, photographs or pictures

drummern. person who plays the drums in a music group

filter n. something placed over something to change its appearance

lyric n. the words of a song

graphics n. relating the artistic use of pictures, shapes or words

debut – n. the first appearance or performance of something

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