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Live Music Sessions from the VR Basement of KCRW

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The legendary basement of Los Angeles-based radio station KCRW plays host to some our favorite in-studio sessions for Morning Becomes Eclectic, the station’s flagship music program. With artist jam sessions ranging from Death Cab for Cutie, Hot Chip, or Purity Ring, the exclusive performances have always been a welcome addition to the often tedious LA commute.

If you ever wondered what it would be like to join a live session in the station’s basement studio, to actually stand in center of it all, KCRW has an app for that and they’re building quite a library of content in the process.

The free mobile app called KCRW VR was launched earlier this year, letting you join in on the intimate performances in virtual reality. At the time of launch, KCRW was the first public media entity and radio station to launch a dedicated VR app, and with its in-house production team, has been keeping up to their promise of providing exclusive VR content throughout the year.

In studio with Death Cab for Cutie.

In studio with Death Cab for Cutie.

To capture content for their app, KCRW built by hand a custom VR rig in the basement of KCRW’s Santa Monica studio. The custom VR rig features eight GoPro cameras that allow each artist’s performance to be captured in stereoscopic 3D  and produce a 360º panoramic video.

The team modified the optics of the GoPro cameras by putting in wider custom lenses to capture the right angles of the studio, which the footage is then stitched together to give you these stereoscopic 3D VR basement sessions.

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Modified GoPro lenses for wider 3D capture in studio.

KCRW has been recording in the basement of the cafeteria at Santa Monica College for 30 plus years now, but will finally be moving into a new building sometime in the next year. So it is great to see these artists captured in such an intimate setting and something the station can be proud of looking back on with fond memories.

The radio station also has plans to shoot non-music VR content shortly, which will include a VR tour of the basement studio to celebrate their move to a new office and pay homage to their roots, as well artists painting large 360° canvases.

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As a nod to their hard work, the KCRW VR app has been nominated for a Webby award in the music category along with some stiff competition from the likes of Shazam, Sony, Google Creative Lab and SoundCloud. (Votes can be cast here)

It should be noted that this year marks the first-time the Webby awards will also recognize excellence and originality in VR with its own category and nominations (here and here) including pretty much everything we have covered in the past like The New York Times’ VR series The Displaced, TOMS Virtual Giving Trip, Stella Artois’ Buy a Lady a Drink, Discovery VR, ABC News VR, Dreams of Dali, Orchestra VR and VRSE’s Walking New York / Take Flight.

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Custom laser etched GoPro housing designed for the studio space.

To experience KCRW’s exclusive performances in VR, you can download the free app for iOS and Android and can purchase a specially designed KCRW Cardboard, with artwork by Mr. Scruff, for a $5.00 donation to KCRW.com. Users that do not have KCRW Cardboard can still watch the videos as an interactive 360 degree video on KCRW’s YouTube channel.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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