While holographic Whitney Houston is hitting the road, a new mobile app is bringing volumetric captures of up and coming performers directly to the iPhones and iPads of fans.
On Wednesday, AR studio 1RIC launched Jadu, a video app that delivers virtual performances by music artists Poppy, Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova, Vic Mensa, Palaye Royale, and Sir Chloe, allowing users to capture their virtual performances in the physical realm.
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Filmed at Metastage, one of Microsoft's Mixed Reality Capture partners, in Los Angeles, each artist performs a clip from one of their recent singles. After selecting an artist and downloading the video clip, users anchor the content to a horizontal surface and the virtual performer springs to life. Users can then record a clip of the performance and share it via other social media apps or download it to their mobile device.
The selection of artists is limited at launch, but 1RIC plans to add a wider array of performers soon. Among the current selection, perhaps the most recognizable tune from a mainstream perspective is Vic Mensa's "It's A Bad Dream," which features backing from Good Charlotte. But the politically charged "Hangerz" by Pussy Riot (and featuring Vic Mensa) is also a strong selection.
The app is available now for free via the App Store for ARKit-compatible devices.
"We want Jadu to enable a new sense of presence," said Asad J. Malik, the creator of Jadu and the CEO of 1RIC, in a statement. "There is something special about allowing artists to share this new sense of presence with young audiences that care so deeply about them. I'm very proud of our first batch of artists. Their fans rely on their music to express and make sense of identity at such an impressionable age. We are here to help strengthen that bond."
Malik propelled himself into the spotlight based on his work directing cinematic augmented reality experiences, first with Terminal 3 for the HoloLens, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018. His follow-up, A Jester's Tale (starring Poppy), was delivered via the Magic Leap 1, and won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. Both experiences also relied heavily on volumetric video.
But Jadu moves Malik and 1RIC from one-off experience territory and into the AR platform space, with aims to compete with other short-form viral video apps. And while the app's content selection is slim at the moment, the execution is solid and the quality of the AR content is better than most mainstream consumers are used to.
The angle of mixing music and AR has ample precedent. Snapchat and Facebook, with their Lens Studio and Spark AR creators platforms, have given music artists a new stage to promote their work via AR. Artists like Childish Gambino and Sigur Ros have demonstrated how an AR experience can elevate their musical compositions. Volumetric video has even made its way into a few traditional music videos.
Also, the wider availability of capture resources has now made it easier to create volumetric video content. Companies like Microsoft, Sony, Google, and Jaunt XR all now offer the facilities or services that allow nearly anyone to capture volumetric video, while 8th Wall also supports such content on its web-based AR platform.
Jadu may have arrived at just the right time, just as consumers are increasingly craving remixed content, and the music industry is quickly warming to the immersive AR format in a bid to offer fans ever more innovative experiences that, just a few years ago, might have seemed like the stuff of science fiction.