LCD Soundsystem: the Dance Tonite VR music experience

With LCD Soundsystem’s song ‘Tonite’ picking up a Grammy as Best Dance Recording last weekend, let’s take a look behind the scenes at the innovative WebVR experience that was created last year to accompany the track.

Studio Puckey and Moniker, two Dutch interactive design studios, created, developed and directed the WebVR music video Dance Tonite for the electro-punk band. The project was coordinated in collaboration with Google’s Data Arts team, who provide artists with the chance to explore new and innovative technologies.

Background

Jonathan Puckey (Studio Puckey) and Roel Wouters (Moniker) were asked by the Data Arts team to develop a mind-blowing WebVR concept that would involve creativity and user enjoyment. They developed a prototype which led to the idea of creating an interactive music video. Enter LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Tonite’.

Strategy

With Dance Tonite, users are given the chance to explore the creative possibilities introduced by WebVR, which makes it possible to enter virtual reality (VR) environment using your web browser. The WebVR technology, therefore, encourages user participation, creating easy access for everyone, irrespective of the device being used.

Process

In Dance Tonite, users go from room to room experiencing a series of dance performances created entirely by fans.

Designing and developing multi-platform experiences means accounting for each user’s needs, depending on their device. And with every design decision, the team needed to see how that might impact other users. How do you ensure that what you see in VR is equally as exciting as without VR, and vice versa?

Dance Tonite gives users a different role in the experience depending on their device. With a VR headset, you are standing on the stage, looking around as the experience unfolds. With room-scale VR, you are the performer and can contribute your own dance to the video. Without VR, you get to watch the action from a bird’s eye view.

The team created a recording tool that lets you, the performer, build layers of moves all by yourself, similar to building a music track with a loop pedal. While those with room-scale VR systems can add dances, anyone on the web can watch performances, with or without a VR system.

The biggest technical challenge was ensuring optimal performance across all platforms. Any sudden drop in frame rate could result in nausea when using a VR headset. Therefore, the developers needed to make sure the experience on mobile devices was on a par with powerful gaming machines. To overcome this issue, they used a minimalist design that was still able to convey emotion, as well as human movement.

Outcome

After launch, Dance Tonite was featured in many different places across the web. From Billboard to Mashable, NME and Pitchfork. The project also won the ‘site of the day’ at the FWA and Awwwards. But most importantly, the video received an incredible amount of user contributed performances.

This case study is brought to you by the Dutch Digital Design collective

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