Virtual reality: opera gets in on the act

Enter the pit

This week the Royal Opera House unveiled its 2016-17 season – and with it details of a new digital campaign employing VR technology

The Royal Opera House’s Guide to our Orchestra is one of the most ambitious uses of immersive tech we’ve seen yet from a classical music organisation – and we’ve seen a lot. In March, we brought you news of five ensembles using VR to reach new audiences, and reported on two more VR projects – from the Berlin Konzerthausorchester and violinist Tim Fain – a week later.

One of the most ambitious uses of immersive tech we’ve seen yet from a classical music organisation

The ROH’s VR experience, unveiled yesterday, was filmed in June 2015. Production company Play Nicely used 31 cameras (including a GoPro360° rig with binaural audio head) to capture the ROH orchestra performing Rossini’s William Tell Overture in a single take.

Viewable via tablet, desktop or VR headset, the campaign is introduced by musical director Antonio Pappano, himself filmed in 360° in his ROH office.

Users are then invited to ‘Enter the pit’, where they can watch the performance from a variety of perspectives:

  • A 360° view of the orchestra and auditorium from behind Pappano
  • Via GoPro Hero 4 cameras attached to players, instruments and Pappano himself
  • Static cameras focusing on individual players and their instruments

Still from ROH Guide to our Orchestra - trumpet screenshot

The campaign’s default view is an adjustable split screen that displays 360° footage alongside a Director’s Cut of alternative angles. Users can swap out the second screen for other angles by selecting them from the carousel at the bottom of the screen or clicking on red dots above each orchestral section in the 360° view.

Angles can be changed mid-performance without interrupting playback, while written information about the players in each angle can be accessed via the carousel.

ROH Guide to our Orchestra VR viola 2 screen shot

A couple of bugs aside, it’s an incredibly immersive campaign and certainly the most advanced of its kind in classical that we’ve seen online so far (the Berlin Konzerhausorchester’s recent project coming a close second). Have a play at and tell us what you think.

Classical Music Reimagined specialises in bringing you stories about the intersections between music and technology. Keep up to date by liking Amphio on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
By in , , , , , ,
0 0 0 4 comments
    • Amanda
    • 7 April, 2016

    Beware those with delicate stomachs. I had a nasty attack of motion sickness when plunging headlong into the orchestra.

    • Marinaiki
    • 10 April, 2016

    Bravi to ROH sounds fab but when oh WHEN will they have an on demand/archiving facility like the Met – even on subscription – so the shows can be enjoyed afterwards and for posterity by

  1. Pingback: Orchestra prepares for premiere live stream via Facebook - Classical Music Reimagined

  2. Pingback: Musical instruments in slow motion - Classical Music Reimagined

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *