Montreal Symphony Signs Deal For VR Content

Montreal Symphony Signs Deal For VR Content
July 29, 2019
Thanks in part to a $3.3-million investment in the SAT announced Wednesday by Quebec Economic and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, the SAT will record OSM rehearsals and concerts to create immersive acoustic projects. DAVE SIDAWAY / POSTMEDIA


For the next three years, the Société des arts technologiques will record OSM rehearsals and concerts to create immersive acoustic projects.


Thanks to two new programs at la Société des arts technologiques (SAT), you will soon be able to experience the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal in a fully immersive audio environment on your phone.


Madeleine Careau, CEO of the OSM, said the city’s premiere orchestra is always searching for new ways to reach audiences beyond the concert hall and that’s why she is excited to be associated with these new programs at the SAT. The programs will help the orchestra but also other cultural outfits, and even non-cultural businesses like CAE, the Montreal-based manufacturer of simulation technologies.


The research programs are for collective spontaneous immersion and acoustic simulation for virtual reality and augmented reality. The two programs have a total budget of $5.9 million and at a press conference Wednesday morning, Quebec Economic and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon announced that the Quebec government is giving SAT $3.3 million to help finance this research. With the money, the SAT Metalab is going to increase its staff from 10 to 25.


SAT is a world-renowned centre for research into immersive technologies and it is a venue for a wide variety of cultural events, with the immersive shows happening in the Satosphère, a permanent dome built specifically for 360-degree immersive experiences.


The OSM already has opened a space just beside its concert hall at the Maison symphonique to help people discover the history of the orchestra via, in part, virtual reality.


“And we’re going to bring projects developed by the SAT to this space,” said Careau. “People will be able to listen to and experience what the SAT team is going to record at our concert hall.”


For the next three years, the team from SAT will spend a week each year recording OSM rehearsals and concerts to create immersive acoustic projects.


“For sure we want to use these recordings for an augmented reality smartphone app that we will be launching in the upcoming months and years,” said Simon Ouellette, head of special projects for the OSM.


The OSM already has a virtual reality piece that is available on the major VR platforms like Oculus. It’s a six-minute VR video on the huge organ at the Maison symphonique, the Grande Orgue Pierre-Béique, with the camera entering into the organ as it’s played by the OSM resident organist Jean-Willy Kunz.


“The OSM is moving more and more toward using these new technologies to allow people to have a new appreciation of classical music and of the music of the OSM,” said Ouellette.


For Monique Savoie, president and founder of SAT, this initiative is all about underlining that the SAT can work in both the cultural and business sectors.


“This is the meeting of art and industry,” said Savoie. “SAT is known in the immersive field and today we’re inviting other partners to join us. So a company like CAE can use things that we’ve developed in the cultural field. Other sectors are adopting technology that we’ve developed. I really think the future of Montreal is all about bringing these two important poles together — art and engineering. What Montreal is known for worldwide is our artistic creations and our engineers. But we’ve never had them work together. What the SAT is doing is bringing the artists and the engineers together.”


And it’ll change the way you consume art, Savoie said.


“Think about it,” said Savoie. “An orchestra is 100 musicians who all have to travel somewhere every time there’s a concert. Now we’re democratizing the experience of listening to an orchestra.”

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