Broadway in virtual reality; we knew it was coming and now it’s finally here.
“The Lion King” on Broadway is giving fans an entirely new look at the musical and they just may be the best seats in the house.
This week Disney and Wired released 360-degree footage of the theatrical production’s opening song “Circle of Life.” Viewers can watch the footage on many of the platforms you would expect. If you have a Google Cardboard viewer, pop your Android device in and watch it on YouTube 360. Maybe your Samsung Gear VR headset is more your speed, check it out on Milk VR. The video is also made available on Littlstar and Vrideo. All the bases are covered.
Disney Theatrical Productions is stating that this is the first time anyone has recorded a live show in a Broadway theater for virtual reality and they are right.
The roughly 5-minute long segment was recorded over five and a half performances of the opening song to get a mix of angles from all over the stage. Instead of just placing a small six-camera GoPro rig front and center of the stage, the film crew placed the cameras in a variety of locations to switch between different views.
Although the intention may have been to give viewers a feeling of moving around within the performance, the majority of comments on YouTube were quite annoyed with the quick camera angle cuts. Especially when watching the footage in a VR headset, this can be a jarring transition. The production company Total Cinema 360 made a calculated decision to produce The Lion King opening song this way. Jumping from stage location to stage location was the best way they felt would bring out the dynamic choreography.
Kudos to them – they could have just given viewers a front row seat to the performance, never really having to move the camera rig, and maybe that would have been the best seat in the house.
But the promise of virtual reality is to immerse viewers in an experience, to give viewers a feeling of presence. So why not let viewers experience what it’s like to be on stage with the performers and feel what it’s like to look down on a crowded theater from the high vantage point 20 feet above the performers.
That is actually the best seat in the house.
Image Credit: Disney YouTube