Collected Notes from a VR Performance

I just “attended” my first “live” VR performance: Reggie Watts in AltSpaceVR.

(Air quotes used to illustrate how silly it is to demarcate the reality of experiences in VR. I won’t be using them again, VR is real enough to shrug off the quotes.)

(You can check out a recorded version of the show on youtube. Update: The video has been made private. Hopefully it’ll return at some stage, as it’s an interesting piece of archival material.)

Reggie Watts Live in VR

A quick collection of thoughts about live performance in VR

Not So Great Things

A “Mute All Audience Members” button is vital. Surely one of the main advantages of VR shows is that you don’t have to deal with idiots talking over the performance? I found myself having to wander through the crowd to find whoever was the source of obnoxious noises and mute them.

Ideally the VR client should detect if the audience isn’t wearing headphones (show noise is feeding back through their mic) and automatically mute them.

When a performer starts their show, all audience members could have their volume reduced/muffled by the software. Real performances use amplification to allow the performer to (mostly) be louder than audience members. Anonymity combined with a technological ability to be as loud as the person on stage made for a very rowdy show.

VR client software should have a “temporary mute” button physically on your controller. A “cough button”, so you don’t have to locate and toggle the little microphone icon if you need to clear your throat/eat chips.

Audience Interaction doesn’t really work unless all audience members are in the same virtual room as the performer. With over 500 (I heard someone say 800 at peak) users trying to watch the show, they were being split into separate room copies, separate from the  “VIP” room that the performer was seeing. This seemed to cause the audience I was with to feel disconnected, and they started to become unruly when they realized they couldn’t be seen/heard by the performer.

Even the “VIP” room had some strange moments as the audience level was close to that of Reggie’s (embedded video cued to 56m38s. Update: The video has been made private. Hopefully it’ll return at some stage, as it’s an interesting piece of archival material.):

As a super great performer he recovered the moment well, but I think this situation has more potential drawbacks than advantages.

Great Things

A common element of support acts is the “please come to the front of the room” section of the performance. VR audience members seem to have no problem going right up to the stage and dancing. I’m mortified by public dancing, but it’s not as scary in VR.

Muting noisy/annoying audience members is a superpower everyone has wanted at a show. Now it’s a thing you can totally do. Giving this power to the performer as a moderation tool could also be great for their experience of the show. Goodbye hecklers.

Motion Capture + Audio Recording = Ability to play the entire show back later. This makes for some interesting performance possibilities, and was useful today when the servers became overloaded. It seemed that the VR performance was actually played back from recorded motion capture and audio data.

So Is VR One Of The Futures Of Live Performance

Yep, it absolutely can be. It has some huge advantages over video streaming. The feeling of presence is pretty magical. The drawbacks won’t take long to solve, but the advantages are many and will continue to grow as the tech matures.

Animation/Post-Production Music Video Projects

Ball Park Music – Pariah Music Video/Promo

We had such a lovely time making the Ball Park Music tour visuals last year, so when it was time to release music from their first album in 2 years, Sam and the gang decided that they wanted to do some things that were leaning more towards visuals than traditional music videos.

Pariah is a sprawling, 7+ minute, mostly instrumental jam. Sam creates much of the band’s visual style through collage of old images, which fit the tone of the song beautifully, so I took his raw cutout materials, and turned them into a journey through time and space:

The band were understandably nervous about this kind of track being their first new material in years, but the public response to both the track and visual style was overwhelmingly positive, supportive, and loving.

So it looks like there will be a couple more of these to come. Yes indeed. We’ll also be able to use them as live visuals for future festival shows. Bonus!

Update: After release, Rage – Australia’s publicly-funded, greatest-music-video-show-in-the-history-of-the-world contacted the label to ask for a copy of the clip. I didn’t think we’d bother to submit a 7-minute long piece of mostly-visuals, but they played it third on Friday night, and then first up at 9am on Saturday! Thanks for keeping it weird for all these decades, Rage.

Animation/Post-Production Live Shows Projects

Aerialicious – The Sparkly Taboo: Promo Edit

After filming some of Aerialicious’ wonderful variety performance at last year’s Wonderland Festival at Brisbane Powerhouse, I was asked to edit a promo for their entire show.

Combining footage from two other shooters with my own, we put together a 2-minute overview of their sparkly aerial burlesque extravaganza!

Motion Control Music Video Projects

WALKEN – Eagle Eye: Music Video

Brisbane punksters WALKEN. Three guys. Three cameras. Three locations. One robot. One Jaymis.

Sometimes things just Make Sense.

Corporate Projects

Brisbane Powerhouse – Comedy Festival 2016: Promo

The Powerhouse have grown their wonderful Brisbane Comedy Festival exponentially over the past few years. For 2016 we reused some of last year’s footage to showcase the superb lineup the team has brought to Brisbane.

Music Video Projects

Hey Geronimo – Boredom: Music Video

An homage to one of Australia’s best-ever music videos. TISM’s “Thunderbirds Are Coming Out“.

Pete from Hey Geronimo has directed all of their varied works. He asked me to be DoP for his planned remake, and solve the not-insignificant problem of having a camera smoothly traverse 85m with precise timing, and without a large budget.

Music Video Projects

WAAX – Holy Sick: Music Video

I’ve loved working with WAAX as they thrash their way through the early years of their careers. After the robotic glitch explosion of Wisdom Teeth and the strange mirror-world of I For An Eye, we wanted to do something simple, visceral and effective for the launch of their Holy Sick EP and tour.

Hence, a live music video, recorded in a single, sweat-drenched take at their home ground of Black Bear Lodge in Fortitude Valley.

Corporate Projects

Brisbane Powerhouse – Wonderland Festival 2015: Promo Video

The Brisbane Powerhouse festival of burlesque, circus, cabaret, music and food. All kinds of fun to shoot, and this piece was edited and online less than 24 hours later:

3D Printing/Fabrication Projects

3D Printable, Seamless, Friction-fit Lens Gears for Follow Focus

Working with digital cinema and motion-control has given me an appreciation for Cine Lenses With Gearing On Them. Working in a reality where things cost money keeps me appreciating Stills Lenses With No Gearing But With Less Numbers On The Price Tag. Adding gears to stills lenses has traditionally required relatively expensive/invasive modifications, or compromised solutions involving bolts, cable ties, or other fiddly things.


Last year I figured out how to generate arbitrarily-sized gears for my selection of lenses, changing the internal diameter of each gear by 0.5mm at a time until they fit each lens perfectly.

All the while thinking, “if someone went through this process for a wide range of diameters and shared the designs, everyone’s lenses will get better, forever!”

Advertising Corporate Featured Motion Control Projects Timelapse/Slow Motion

Brisbane Powerhouse – Discover Brisbane Powerhouse: TV Advertisement

I’ve been filming various events and promos with Brisbane Powerhouse for much of 2015, all the while colluding with them to combine the huge breadth of footage I was capturing into a TV ad which showcases the Powerhouse as a whole.

We dubbed this project the Destination Trailer. It’s part of their Discover Brisbane Powerhouse campaign, which launched in November 2015.

The piece distilled months of filming into precisely 20 seconds, because Television. To include some more awesome stuff we’ve also produced an extended “Director’s Cut” for web.