vRSP: virtual (Re)Sounding of Place

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Music


The vRSP project explores new, responsive, immersive, and interactive methods of experiencing a performance, as well as allowing users to explore the unique heritage places for which these performances have been created. The project brings significant expertise and assets to explore this area, in terms of both production and consumption of performance. It builds on the team's expertise in site-specific performance, 3D audio recording and (re)construction, performance capture, live imagery, video game development tools virtual and virtual/augmented/mixed reality.

The core project team includes Michael Price, one of the UK's most sought-after composers, known for EMMY-winning compositions for BBC's Sherlock and Unforgotten as well as work on films including Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Richard Curtis' Love Actually, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. Alongside his Film/TV work, and recordings with the label Erased Tapes Records. vRSP will allow Price to work together with University of Surrey academics Kirk Woolford and Tony Myatt. Woolford is an expert on interactive media content creation with more than 150 interactive works created and 25 years' experience developing immersive performances, 20 years of developing VR performances, and 7 years' work with AR. Myatt is the head of Music and Media at the University of Surrey, founding director of the University of York's Music Research Centre, one of the foremost authorities on spatial audio. All three core partners are active creative practitioners and perform their works world-wide.

vRSP will allow the partners to address issues around the development of immersive audio together with BAFTA, Surrey Engineering's Centre for Vision Speech and Signal Processing, 5G Innovation Centre (including the 5G Gaming Initiative and DCMS hub), Guildford-based Games and VR development companies (nDreams, Supermassive, EA/Criterion). The network will be led by challenges emerging from creative productions, and disseminated through well-developed networks.

vRSP will develop outputs that are exemplars of a wholly new genre of art work, designed for virtual space but based on notable and rare historic places for which music will be written to integrate musical and social memory, and exploit unique architectural and acoustic environments. Live performances of newly composed works will be captured and disseminated to viewers and listeners as VR content through the application of a series of novel production techniques. These will enhance and address specific difficulties presented by current technologies, as described below, by applying interdisciplinary knowledge that combines research findings from human perception, neuroscience, musical composition, animation, visual surface-mapping techniques and visual signal processing, stereoscopic 360 degree video and three-dimensional audio recording and reproduction methods. The network will draw together experienced practitioners from all fields to inform the creation of a new work that will portray the intrinsic qualities of the historic performance space through site specific live performance and a combination of contemporary video- and animation-based techniques for VR generation.

Planned Impact

VRSP will generate impact through development of new performance methodologies, best practice and tools for creating compelling digital actor performances in 360 VR/AR environments. VR is a major opportunity for the UK's world leading creative industry - worth £84.1 billion and employing 2.8m people - with investment of $4bn in immersive displays and a predicted global market size of $150bn for AR/VR content by 2020. vRSP collaborators including creative leaders in Music, Film, Broadcast, Video Games and Digital Arts are ideally placed to exploit research advances for commercial, economic and cultural impact. Techniques for developing immersive 3D audio will have widespread impact beyond VR/AR for video games, movie production, education, training and simulation.

Commercial exploitation of VRSP's ground breaking outputs will be led by stakeholder partners in Music content creation and performance for VR, games, film and broadcast. vRSP partners will exploit outputs for TV, movie and video games and research projects with external partners in creative industries and beyond. This capability will be directly exploited by partners involved in content production (Coney, Figment, Imaginarium, Framestore, DoubleNegative, SuperMassive, BBC) and creative tools (The Foundry, Imagineer, IKinema, DoubleMe). Economic impact will be achieved through both additional production capabilities for new market places and incorporating the novel tools arising from VRSP into new products (such as The Foundry's CARAVR for Nuke, and IKinema LiveAction). Engagement with acting organisations in co-production (Guildford School of Acting (GSA), will ensure that outputs are developed with end user requirements, increasing uptake and helping shape the skillsets of future actors/directors, and informing new curriculums.

One of the core societal impacts of vRSP will be to initiate a rethinking of our means of conducting research between Academia and the Creative Economy. Rather than focusing olely on developing new technologies, vRSP aims to demonstrate that valuable insights can be gathered through close integration of Arts and Science.


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