The Future of Music

May 5, 2020

London’s Miro Shot on how their AR/VR band collective is making a new kind of music.
By Helena Corvin-Swahn. // Photos by Miro Shot Collective member MR Wash, artwork by Miro Shot and the Miro Shot Collective. Show poster by Alex Ford & the Miro Shot Colective.

A creative collective of musicians, artists, designers, coders and filmmakers, Miro Shot is transforming the concert experience with their unique blend of live performance, virtual reality and sensory immersion. In addition to being a musician, the band’s foreman, Roman Rappak, has a background in filmmaking, animation and sound design, allowing him to bring a finely tuned sense of visual drama and ambition to musical expression.

Inspired by creative collaboration and storytelling, Miro Shot uses Cinema 4D to create the collective’s richly textured narratives, including art for their debut album, CONTENT, and the accompanying live VR concert, which was the first experience selected to premiere in the US across all three of this year’s now-cancelled SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festivals.

Rappak’s journey to Miro Shot began with the artistic multimedia collective BretonLABS, where he experimented with motion graphics for music videos and directed music videos for other artists, including Sinead O’Connor and Charlotte OC. When Breton disbanded, Rappak looked for the next challenge: “I was learning Cinema 4D at the time and the tech, gaming and motion graphic worlds were optimistic and exciting,” he recalls. “I wanted to hang out where things were happening with artists, designers, coders, technologists and game developers.”

Struck by how generously the community shared knowledge, Rappak went on to experiment with game development and became fascinated by the creative and transformative potential of gaming and VR. He remembers thinking of creative collaboration as the new art form, and he wanted to combine music with a positive message about all of the exciting things that were happening. “I thought, slightly idealistically, let’s create a band the likes of which the world has never seen, using all this new technology,” he says. “And let’s invite as many people as we can into it.”

Miro Shot’s first VR show was in Amsterdam in 2017.

A Band Like No Other
Two years later in 2017, the Miro Shot Collective put on their first pioneering augmented concert. Held in secret, with no advertising, the show gave the band an opportunity to develop their new kind of VR/MR (virtual reality in a mixed-reality experience) concert and app. Today the collective includes over 450 members who contribute to the experience according to their creative talent and interests.

Experimental augmented live concerts are central to Miro Shot’s concept and the initial tour of small art venues in Europe was overwhelmingly successful. Encouraged by the reception, the band headed into the studio to record their first album around the idea of it being performed for VR/immersive experiences. Talking about the concept, Rappak is acutely aware that as exciting and enabling as technology is, there are huge dangers in sleepwalking through it.

Artwork for Miro Shot’s album, CONTENT, was made by members of the collective.

Miro Shot’s recently released single, “Half of Us”, captures this message—use and understand this technology or it will use you. Still, Rappak feels that the opportunity is there for us to claim the technology and create positive content experiences. “It’s exciting that VR technology allows us to experience things as we were meant to,” he says, adding that “even if the technology is still in its infancy, it’s already natural, intuitive and in tune with us as humans.”

Album artwork was made using a combination of tools, including C4D.

Ultimately, Miro Shot is a celebration of both technology and creative collaboration, and they rely on Cinema 4D and Unity’s game engine as their primary tools for creating mesmerizing shows that include augmented concert synth music and sound design, haptic feedback, hot and cold temperatures, bespoke scents, live-rendered VR, cinematic landscapes and interactive scenes. The music video for “Half of Us”, demonstrates this same multi-layered style by combining edited footage that blends graphic layers with textures and animation and a curated juxtaposition of the best and worst of social media.

A scene from the band’s augmented live concert for CONTENT.

A Hive-Mind Approach to Music
To help make clear how Miro Shot’s hive mind approach works, Rappak unpacked the making of the “Half of Us” video, starting with a three-day shoot that was followed by two weeks in post. The video was broken down into over 5,000 images with over 20 artists from around the world working on different sections. Graphic designers, 3D modelers, photographers, illustrators and motion designers were sent individual frames along with the relevant lyrics and given creative freedom to rework them. Everything was curated for a cohesive look and motion tracked to blend real and virtual worlds.

A poster for a Miro Shot performance in Oslo.

It was an incredibly exciting process for Rappak, who feels that the finished piece is similar to where society is now, culturally and collaboratively, in a kind of crowd-sourced way. All of the assets that were created play a part in the VR experience, and all of the contributing members are credited. The long-term goal is to create a large-scale event, and at 60 people per group, SXSW would have been the largest yet.

One day, the band also envisions a virtual experience where anyone can attend as an avatar. “The most powerful thing about CGI is the limitless nature of it and being able to experiment on your own terms has always excited me,” says Rappak. Currently, the band is inviting members of The Miro Shot Collective to submit content for their next music video for “I Used to Say Things to Strangers.” The Collective is open to anyone, and those interested in joining can find submission information on the collective’s website under Open Calls.


Credits:
Author: Miro Shot and the Miro Shot Collective
Album co-producers: Felix Howard and Chris Zane
Composer: Miro Shot
Music Publisher: Warp

Helena Corvin-Swahn is a freelance writer in the UK.

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