Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? With Google’s new VR tribute to Queen, it’s hard to tell the difference.
Far more ambitious than your average 360-degree performance and much more exciting than most VR music videos, the search engine giant partnered with immersive storytelling studio Enosis for this surprise new VR experience, available now on Android. It’s a Cardboard-supported journey through one of the British rock group’s most iconic songs; an existential rollercoaster ride of emotion, intrigue and just plain fun. As legendary guitarist Brain May puts it in the sneak peek below, you couldn’t have a better soundtrack.
“Bohemian Rhapsody bridges the gap between ages, ethnicities, sex,” Enosis founder Vangelis Lympouridis tells me when we speak over Skype. “It’s something that unifies people from all around the world under the brilliance of Freddie Mercury and Queen.”
Lympouridis himself previously worked in VR at Mark Bolas’ MxR Studio and the School of Cinematic Arts at The University of Southern California. Having worked on a range of immersive projects, including producing pieces with VR journalist Nonny de la Peña, he became a consultant for Google’s work with VR music. He founded Enosis and, given his prior experience, was able to partner with Google for this project.
Lympouridis was adamant about not just making another VR music video. Instead, the experience is fully interactive with visual triggers, making sure you don’t miss anything you’re not looking at. That goes for the audio too; Enosis partnered with Dolby Labs to remix the song’s music stems for spatialized sound that brings the music to life around you.
As anyone that’s ever been to a wedding, disco or just has ears in general will know, Bohemian Rhapsody is made up of multiple parts that greatly vary in style and tempo. Billed as an exploration of beloved singer Freddie Mercury’s subconscious, the VR experience also jumps between styles. At one point you’ll join a cartoon version of the band on stage to rock out, while in quieter moments you’ll observe dancers and surreal landscapes.
Complete with some throwbacks to the band itself, it’s a pretty compelling tribute to one of the greatest quartets of all time. This is just the start for Lympouridis and Enosis, too. He teases “a whole range of projects that specifically target music, VR, and interactivity, not just music video in VR.”
As you can tell, the project has the endorsement of Queen itself. In fact, May is something of a champion of VR with his own Cardboard-like headset, OWL VR.
If you’re either a hardcore VR enthusiast or are only trying the tech for the first time, this is your perfect chance to escape from reality. The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience should be on iOS within the next few days, supporting iPhone 6s and, when it launches, iPhone 7.