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LCD Soundsystem launches VR experience for new single

LCD Soundsystem, the beloved band that called it quits in 2011 only to come back five years later, has launched a WebVR experience with Google’s Data Arts Team for American Dream song “Tonite.” The experience, called Dance Tonite, is accessible to interact with via HTC VIVE or Oculus Rift, placing the user in a hyper-minimal dance party that echoes 1980s Miami vibes.

Dance Tonite resides on a single URL and depending on your device, gives users different roles within the experience. Without a VR headset (viewing on your laptop, for example), the default view is a bird’s eye perspective, and you can click and hold on individual dancers to see their POV. If you use a VR headset, like Daydream View, you’re in one of the rooms watching dancers around you. Diving in with room-scale VR kit like Oculus Rift (or a similar device that reflects your physical movements in the virtual environment) is the most fun, allowing for full participation.

For those that can add to the performance, you’re given a 16-second clip of music to dance to for a VR motion capture recording. In the recording, the headset is represented as a cone and the controllers as cylinders. Once the music ends, it starts again, and you can add new choreography alongside the previous loop of yourself that was just recorded. Up to 10 instances of your fly self dancing can be created, and your room can then be added to the Dream Tonite project for others to watch.

The team says the stripped-back design was intentional, ensuring that “the creativity and variety in the piece comes from people’s unique performances rather than special effects.” As the camera scrolls through people’s submitted rooms, there’s incredible variety: one user repeated the same dance 10 times, resulting in a room that almost looks like a cardio class. Another just used the controllers without a headset, which appears as a bunch of floating noodles. A third shows a single, lonely dancer hanging out in the corner.

LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy says in the Making Of video that he doesn’t “get [virtual reality] in the big picture,” but he loved the project upon experiencing it. “It’s sort of like going to the beach,” he says. “I don’t want to go to the beach. Then you go to the beach, you swim around, you hang out, you have a day off, and it feels kind of great.”

If you want to know more about the Dance Tonite project, the team has offered a technical deep dive and has made the project code open source.


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