Run the Jewels Shows Us a VR Music Video Done Right
The New York Times has done it right.
Killer Mike and El-P are no stranger to innovative ideas, and the duo's first entry into the VR canon proves the medium is indeed a viable format for music video experimentation. In conjunction with the release of The New York Times Magazine's inaugural music issue, the Times made the video available on their VR app earlier this morning. Yes, you have to go into the App Store, download the app and then wait for the video itself to download — but trust us, it's worth it.
Even without Google Cardboard, the 360 viewing mode provides you with a truly immersive experience. You're dropped into the middle of a barren room only to find various incarnations of Killer Mike and El-P emerging from the darkness, spitting some serious truth in your direction. In partnership with WEVR, the leading VR platform, and directed by Oscar nominee Peter Martin, the video provides us with four different storylines for every verse. You can choose which one to follow simply by tilting your screen to the left or right. Look up and you'll see a thunderous sky littered with the occasional bursts of rocket flare. It's an intense and ominous piece of work that truly highlights the creative possibilities of VR.
The emerging technology has been heavily featured at many of this year's festivals. The New York Times first started to feature VR back in April 2015, but we've been seeing a serious boost of content from the news outlet since November, when they released their first VR film Displaced and sent a free Google Cardboard headset to every one of their print subscribers. But many of those subscribers then complained that the Cardboard viewing experience had caused them to have double vision or feel sick, and we still haven't been presented with a viable option for a comfortable, portable helmet that won't make us look or feel utterly ridiculous in public. As filmmakers begin to discover more of the medium's strengths, it's clear there is still a lot of work to be done.
Earlier this week, RTJ announced they would continue to lead the music world's push into VR as they release their own app separate from the Times called VRTJ. This is just the first piece in a series which will include an Art the Jewels interactive gallery. The headgear and app, which is essentially a customized piece of Google Cardboard, will hit your local record stores in limited quantities in time for Record Store Day on April 16th.