Apple dips a toe into VR with U2 music video

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Doesn’t Get That U2 Is Lame as Hell.

After staying relatively quiet on the future of virtual reality, Apple has made its first foray into the space via a 360-degree U2 music video made available on the Vrse app.When Apple took its first public adventure into virtual reality, the company needed a subject that represented the bright, infinite possibilities of this new medium.Apple has finally revealed some of its VR work to the masses, after years of behind the scenes projects, with U2’s ‘Song for Someone’ now available in all its virtual glory. The music video is part of a larger Apple Music partnership with U2 called “The Experience Bus,” which is basically an environment at concerts for U2 fans to come strap on Oculus headsets and pairs of Beats Solos to check out the “Song for Someone” music video and experience it alongside other fans.

Not shying away from a partnership that has had some ups and downs – ups being Bono as the iTunes music logo, downs being Apple users losing their minds when they were given a free U2 album – Apple’s ‘Experience Bus’ travels around the band’s world tour. The tech company recently released the band’s most recent music video, “Song for Someone,” in immersive, three-dimensional, 360-degree experience on Vrse.

The video also contains footage of the band onstage, exclusive behind-the-scenes jam sessions as well as recordings of other musicians across the world playing their instruments in their own homes. It’s a pretty classic, if not above-average, VR experience, but is made far more interesting by the Apple Music branding featured at the beginning of the video.

According to Wired, it was a project Apple started working on even before launching Apple Music, which is where you assume these projects will start popping up. The music weaves in and out of those artists alone or with members of U2, and the Vrse app allows you to look at them while they play by turning your head (Google Cardboard) or moving your iPhone. Rotate your device 90 degrees to the right, and you’ll find The Edge playing, as shown below: A few seconds into the song, and Bono’s dulcet tones will hit you on the left.

When asked what the company’s involvement means for its future plans, however, the streaming service’s head of content, Larry Jackson, would only give a “no comment.” Jackson, though, did allow that Apple’s support for the piece “signals and symbolizes something,” adding that Apple Music is already working on a similar partnership with Vrse to make a “post-apocalyptic action film” in VR for the band Muse. When the band released their “Songs of Innocence” album last year in September, the brand released it for free to 26 million Apple Music subscribers. With so many different companies offering music streaming services, it was believed that Apple may have missed the boat when it came to offering a similar service to what was available, but CEO Tim Cook has said the statistics prove otherwise. “I’m finding personally that I’m discovering a whole lot of music that I wasn’t listening to before,” Cook said of its performance to date. “I think it’s fabulous. Later their signatures were physically etched onto the back of a pair of models of their own U2 special edition iPods with stylized red and black designs.

And to have over 15m on there, and 6.5m in the paid category, I’m really happy about it, and I think the runway here is really good.” Metaio’s technology – which has been used by BMW, Macy’s, Ferrari and Ikea – enables brands to provide consumers with realistic experiences of products they may be considering purchasing. Last year, the company was in the center of criticism after 26 million iTunes users found the band’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence” downloaded into their own accounts without their consent. Apple has continued to be a major supporter of Bono’s (RED) charity, which has raised nearly $320 million with the help of corporate partners like Apple to help treat and prevent the spread of AIDS.

But that could be just the beginning. “You’re on the phone, you’re connected to everything else on the phone,” Milk says. “Why can’t one app play with another app nicely?” (The answer to this question may lie in Apple’s recent hunt for a developer to “create high performance apps that integrate with virtual reality systems for prototyping and user testing.”) There’s no reason that VR running on smartphones—like Vrse’s app does using Google Cardbard—couldn’t link people out to any number of things their iPhone. During the holiday season last year, Apple donated money generated from in-app purchases to RED, a non-profit organization, that aims to fund research and fight the disease. The album was welcomed by U2 fans, but managed to piss off many of the 26 million people who downloaded the album, many of which unknowingly had the album automatically loaded into their libraries thanks to certain iCloud settings being enabled.

But this new virtual reality video experience is targeting the band’s fans and makes the special featured video available for fans attending the band’s concerts, so it’s fan base oriented. Aside from the Oculus equipment and headsets that they carry, they also feature other Apple products such as iPads, MacBooks and Beats Solos that all feature the band’s latest music video. U2 has clearly been a partner that Apple feels comfortable launching new initiatives with so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple Music continue helping produce VR content with other select artists in the future. It was rumored a few months ago that Apple might be working on an augmented reality headset following their acquisition of AR startup Metaio earlier this summer, though to me this suggests that they are more likely looking towards AR technologies for the rumored Apple car. He’d just gotten notes from the band on the next round of edits to the video, had likely already received more email than most of us get in a whole day—including one about doing a second TED Talk in 2016—and was trying to leave for the first of many meetings of the day, including one with Sony’s president of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, to discuss Project Morpheus.

Google Cardboard is currently the only “immersive” avenue and most of the physical cases that one would use are pretty damn shitty, though some better options may be on the way. The app that Apple is using for this specific experience is called Vrse and is available for download on the App Store, the Google Play Store, the Gear VR Store and through the Google Cardboard app. She’s a hardcore U2 fan—she once made a plan to marry Bono for a high school project—and now that she’s engaged (not to Bono), she’s had to choose between the band and wedding planning. “A U2 show is about $70,” she narrates in a voice-over. “That doesn’t seem like too much when you’re thinking about things in the big picture, but when you have little things to get for a wedding like invitations or just little things like that, $70 is really a lot.

The app primarily is focused on creating viewing experiences for third-party content partners, which previously has included The New York Times, Vice News, NBC and others. It’s been at least 15 years since U2 did anything remotely cool, and yet, Apple doesn’t seem to get that the last time U2 was relevant was around the time the iPod was unveiled by Steve Jobs. All told, there were three different crews in three different time zones capturing footage of people who’d responded to the band’s call for submissions online or whom the producers had found on the web. “We had a team working 24 hours a day in shifts on casting,” says producer Ari Palitz. “[It] was a true testament to advances in technology. We would find a performer we liked on YouTube, then once we were able to contact them and make sure they were available, we would present them all to Chris to choose from. I ask if it gets boring; in response, he brings up Kanye West. “There’s something I said to Kanye a long time ago,” Milk said, “which was ‘Don’t you get sick of playing those songs on stage every night?’ And he said, ‘No, because it’s not about the playing of the song, it’s about the reaction you’re getting from people.’ It’s the same thing for VR.

Last week, Apple illustrated a much more sensible music partnership when it released the video for Drake’s “Hotline Bling” for one week exclusively through Apple Music.

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