In collaboration with Queen, Google Play’s Bohemian Rhapsody Experience for Cardboard is an impressive example of where VR music videos are heading.

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In an age where people rarely buy physical albums anymore, music videos are today’s cover art; they connect memorable imagery to sound, and function as vehicles to spread songs beyond where they would go on their own. As a testament to their power, music videos sometimes becomes as iconic (or even more so) than the music they’re tied to (think Gangnam Style).

The music video genre has always been about spectacle and pushing creative boundaries; in some cases, music videos transcend their role as a marketing vehicle and push into the territory of art.

What better place to engage viewers with powerful and memorable imagery than the immersive medium of VR?

Google, through a collaboration with Queen, has given us an excellent case study in the future of the music video and just how well the genre can work in virtual reality.

The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience, just launched for free on Android for Google Cardboard (and coming soon to iOS), is an immersive VR music video for Queen’s iconic six minute ballad.

The experience, which “offers a journey through frontman Freddie Mercury’s subconscious mind,” is filled with diverse imagery from hand-drawn animation to motion capture to CGI. The changing visuals reflect the song’s distinct stylistic segments, which range from opera to rock. It isn’t just a 360 video either, it’s a fully 3D experience rendered in real-time, with 3D audio, and has subtle interactive elements depending upon where the user is looking.

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Google, Queen, and Enosis VR, a production studio heavily involved in the development of the experience, talk about creating the Bohemian Rhapsody Experience:

The impressively crafted visual journey, created in large part by Enosis VR, employs lots of impressive hand-drawn animation. This at first seems out of place (flat, 2D animation in an immersive 3D experience?), but it turns out to be so well executed that the Bohemian Rhapsody Experience serves not just as proof for the future of VR music videos, but secondarily as a showcase for how such animation can not only survive, but thrive in virtual reality.

You can snatch the Bohemian Rhapsody Experience for free from Google Play. You’ll need a Cardboard viewer to watch it, or, if you have Gear VR, you can use the CB Enabler for Gear VR to view it through your Gear VR headset.

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