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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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Me

    Come on, we need this for serious HMDs also, Vives and Rifts and all the others. I’m sick of all this compartimentalization : such experiences don’t require anything special, so why lock them ? Talk about walled gardens.

    • Justos

      Google, Oculus, Apple, Sony, and Microsoft all have their own “walled gardens”. If you dont like it, then you should stop supporting all of these companies. They want people using their hardware. Go figure. This is nothing new, VR is not exempt from how they do business.

      • beestee

        Why not include Valve and HTC on that list? Everyone should support them to avoid a closed ecosystem?

        I would laugh but I don’t think it is funny at all.

        • Justos

          Just tired of dealing with Valve trolls. They have their own walled garden, but since you can use it on all pc’s its okay. (to them) . Most of them are using Windows or Android/iOS so they would be supporting a walled garden in some shape or form anyway.

          • Me

            That was my point. We don’t need any walled gardens, especially for things like “experiences”. Imagine if you had to choose between two standards to buy all your movie cassettes. It would be a disaster for half of the customers at some point. Oh wait…

          • DougP

            I call BS!
            You’re comparing Steam to the likes of Oculus/Apple/MS store?

            I have multiple OSes & hardware platforms, which are supported on Steam.
            I noticed you conveniently misled with your comment by not mentioning that Steam is supported on Linux & Mac OS.
            So….yeah, “supports all major OSes/hardware platforms & is *open* to any of them” = “walled garden” to you.
            WTF?! Seriously.
            “walled garden” – I don’t think it means what you think it means.

            [ Guessing you might be a Oculus apologist/Facebook troll with your misleading comment ]

          • DougP

            So which PC hardware manufacturer & operating system does Steam not allow?
            In my home I have probably 30 different hardware manufacturers for various components/computers & none of this is locked out. I have Mac OS, Windows, Linux – all able to run apps off Steam.
            You apparently don’t know what a walled garden is.

          • Basic

            Sorry, walled in what way? OpenVR is (as the name implies) an open standard. SteamVR supports any OpenVR device, including Oculus Rift.

            Anyone can use their own custom hardware (and many already have). Valve are even going so far as handing out “Dev kits” which come with 40 IR Sensors and associated tracking circuitry to make it easier to have custom devices, all of which are compliant with the OpenVR standard.

            In short, what are you on about?

    • PK

      i’m sure this is going to change. right now not many musicians or labels have much of an idea of how to craft vr experiences, so it’s up to big corporations to experiment by partnering up with those willing to offer technical help, in return for exclusivity. but i think once a few more of us start releasing really jaw-dropping examples of this new artform, and more people have access to the tech, we’re going to be overrun with good, bad and great works on all platforms.

  • PianoMan

    What a shame something like this is only on crappy Cardboard. Why? When Vive and Oculus offer much better experiences and would be incredible with those HMD’s.

    • mr lava lava

      Its probably just on cardboard as theres much , much more cardboard devices than vive/rift/gear. ( a few quid and a relatively good phone vs a high end pc and a 700+ hmd).
      I’ve been out of the loop for a while but suprised thete isnt a cardboard emulator so you can view cardboard stuff like this.

      -Mind you its not working on some popular recent phones including the samsung S5?? not sure how they managed to do that ..must be really unoptimised….

  • Richard Winn Taylor II

    I’m sorry but this is very old school roto animation line drawing animation. Very flat. The original footage looks horrible . The continuity is all over the place with the mixture of all these diverse stylings, images and resolutions. Just not well designed. I’d say there’s a lot of King’s new clothes going on here . . . or should I say Queens new clothes. Love Queen and appreciate the effort but 5 out of 10 at best.

  • Peter Hansen

    Excellent! A one-shot experiment “proves” something. Perfect reasoning. *shouldertap*

  • RavnosCC

    Any talk of this coming to Within platform maybe?

  • Jed Holtzman

    There is cool. Lot’s of great stuff out there. Kong VR is awesome. So is Little Molly ( Then their is Scotland VR. I can’t wait for more to come.