Apple and U2 experiment with virtual reality content in intimate music video

by Upload • October 26th, 2015

Apple acquired one the world’s largest augmented reality companies (MetaIO), a 3D sensor company (PrimeSense), and may have bought a facial recognition and animation software company (FaceShift). The tech giant has been hiring for VR-related jobs and has patented VR-like goggles, but besides these background moves that show an interest in virtual and augmented reality Apple has not yet done anything for consumers related to these technologies.

At least not unit now. Late last night, Vrse and filmmaker Chris Milk launched a 360º music video in partnership with Apple Music for U2’s “Song For Someone,” on both iPhone and Android.

Bono fades in during the performance of "Song for Someone"

Bono fades in during the performance of “Song for Someone”

The video can be seen with or without a Google Cardboard viewer through the Vrse app (iOS App Store/Google Play). The video is best experienced while seated in a swivel chair and features binaural audio if you wear headphones. Bono and the rest of U2 perform the song all around you, interspersed with other musicians in countries around the world. If you turn your head left or right the audio seems to change to single out different performers based on where you are looking. If you don’t have a Cardboard viewer, you can just hold your phone out and turn it in a circle around you to see the different scenes.

This isn’t Milk’s first time working with the legendary Irish rock band. In 2006, he directed the music video for The Saints are Coming, which also featured Green Day. He has also worked with artists like Kanye WestAudioslave, and Beck to produce videos in the past.

Read More: Vrse Teams up with Google and New York Times for VR project

The music video employs interesting strategies, like a mirror, to focus the viewer’s attention. It begins with a tight view of Edge playing guitar, feathering out to a void. This grabs the viewer’s attention and pulls their focus in on him alone. This restrictive moment pulls you in and establishes a sense of intimacy that befits the rightfully titled Song for Someone. You immediately know that someone is you, and you are right in the middle of the performance.

The Edge fading in to begin the video

The Edge fading in to begin the video

As Edge plays the scene slowly expands outward to include Bono as he starts singing. Eventually the footage expands to encompass the full 360º around the viewer with scenes fading in and out over time between different performers around the world. These fades are handled remarkably well, utilizing a similar technique to the fade-in at the beginning, only this time it is over the full 360º view. When mixed with the binaural audio it allows for a unique way to draw the viewer’s attention around the scene transporting them without the use of harsh cuts.

The nature of the partnership between Apple Music and Vrse is unclear but the Apple Music logo plays before the experience begins and Apple has a long-standing relationship with U2. Last year, Apple gave out U2’s album “Songs Of Innocence” free to 500 million iTunes customers and then U2 had to apologize as some saw the automatic freebie as “rude.” Coincidentally, Song For Someone is from that album.

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