ACO Virtual

"ACO VIRTUAL proved popular with all ages. Visitors said they wanted to bring it home."
Maggi Solly
Director, Yarra Ranges Regional Museum

A creative collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, ACO Virtual was a world-first interactive experience that let the audience take control and play with the musicians.

Audiences and visitors stepped ‘inside’ the performance, immersed in a 360-degree cinema experience, surrounded by the musicians. Touring Australia from 2013-2018, the installation was flexible enough to be staged in various venues including galleries or museums. Inside the installation fifteen ACO musicians appeared as projections on walls or screens, while each musician's sound was heard from the direction of their image.

A touch-screen app in the centre of the room let visitors spotlight sound and visuals, highlighting one musician, a section of instruments or their own mix of players. Visitors could also choose to display or hide the musical score below each musician’s image.

The project evolved through extensive research and development, beginning with a pilot interactive video installation, where just four ACO musicians were filmed. The success of the pilot saw the project expand in 2011 to feature 15 musicians in a ground-breaking 13-camera, 3D film shoot.

Using state-of-the-art video technology, the musicians were filmed against green-screens to capture audio and three-dimensional images of each artist, which meant venues could choose to stage the work in either 2D or 3D.

Mod benefited from the contributions of a talented team of international experts brought together for the project including Simon Lear (bSound), Paul Nichola (Cinematographer and 3D expert), iCinema Centre (UNSW) and Derivative (Toronto).

Since its launch in 2013, ACO Virtual has had 40 stagings, 31 of which have been in regional Australia across NSW, QLD, VIC, NT and WA. Eight stagings were in Australian capital cities - including a 2.5 month exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. ACO Virtual has had one international staging in Hong Kong.

With two separate touring kits allowing simultaneous installations, ACO Virtual has been exhibited for approximately 1,151 days and has been experienced by 114,335 audience members. Visitor response has been overwhelmingly positive and media coverage has included Time OutCNET Australia, The Guardian, The Telegraph (UK), IT Wire & the Sydney Morning Herald. See the ACO Virtual tour on Google Maps.

Musicians, including members of the Gold Coast Philharmonic Orchestra have been diving into the experience, playing along with the ACO.

The installation brings amazing artists closer to audiences who do not normally have access to such music and performance. It's a fantastic format for performance that would also suit other genres.

In 2016 we released a VR edition of the (virtual) show which is available to experience in our VR Arcade. Things can only get meta!

The experience included an augmented reality smartphone app including visuals and information on each musician, their instrument, the musical pieces and composers, as well as a take-home track of each piece of music featured in the work.

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Project Credits

Producer: Mish Sparks
Artist and Director: Michela Ledwidge
AIMIA Awards 2014: Nominated - Best Use of Video award
SXSW Interactive 2014: Nominated - Music award
Australian Directors Guild Awards 2014: Winner - Best Direction in a Cross-Platform Project
AVIA 2014: Winner - Best Application of AV in Production
SPA Awards: Nominated - Interactive Production

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