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Satore Tech showcases live music VR production at Raindance

Cosmos Within Us at the Venice Biennale 2019

Following a successful premiere at Venice Film Festival’s VR Biennale, Satore Tech’s Cosmos Within Us is bringing its 360 audio VR experience to London’s independent film festival, Raindance.

Cosmos Within Us, a joint production from Satore Tech, a_BAHN and Satore Studio, is unique in its technical approach. “From the beginning, we knew that the piece was going to be performed live, which meant we had to put an audio system together that would allow for that to happen,” said Tupac Martir, Satore studio founder and co-founder of Satore Tech, as well as the director of Cosmos Within Us.

The premise of Cosmos Within Us is a story set within the mind of a 60-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s. Matir described it in these terms: “Loss is an inevitable part of life. Some are devastated by it, while others draw on it for motivation. The way memory influences our identity inspired me to tell this story in VR and bring to life what it means to forget. My grandfather told me that if you can see something of yourself in others, there’s also something of them within you.”

The VR film viewers are made up of two parts, one headset wearer and four behind the scenes participants. “We knew that we wanted the person in the experience – wearing the headset – to realise different sounds based on their position and receive the voice of the actor directly into their ears, while the rest of the sounds come from an environmental layer.”

Behind the scenes

Satore experimented with different methods of how to provide audio within a 360-experiential environment, turning this notion into a tourable production. Gareth Llewellyn and Jon Olive of Magic Beans, an immersive-audio start-up, were brought in as consultants for the 3D sound project. Each audio element within the film is given its own set of rules and principles.

Matir explained: “This is a different model and a new way of exploring what is possible within the realms of VR, theatre, and music. The fact we sold out Venice VR in less than three hours and had the longest waiting list, tells us that people want to see what we are doing with Cosmos Within Us.”

The musicians within the project are running Ableton with two synths, an electroacoustic cello and a violin being played live, and Ableton adding in various other instruments that aren’t present to make it a workable touring size. The audio engine lives in Unity and triggers Avid Pro Tools in realtime from Unreal using OSC parameters. The speaker set up is 12 Genelec 8010A studio monitors with two Genelec 7050B studio subwoofers. 

The inter-actor (headset user) wears a pair of Bose Open Headphones on a Shure PSM1000 IEM pack and Neumann Tim103 microphone. 

The space required for this piece and its 17 crew members means the Raindance edition will be held at Satore’s Biscuit Factory studios. Matir commented: “It’s unusual, and it means we actually have our own ticketing system for the festival, yet having an actual production and live audio with our musicians and a composer makes all the difference in the world. Live music changes the way that the inter-actor and the behind the scenes viewers feel the music. For the performers, it allows for so much growth and interpretation from each individual performance.”