How Google Cardboard takes you on the VR stage with Paul McCartney

This week we've had a chat with Jens Christensen, CEO of Jaunt, the company that's bringing everyday Google Cardboard users to the concert stage with artists like Jack White and Paul McCartney. Jaunt deals in Virtual Reality experiences, collecting events and locations with their unique camera setups, turning that media into video. With Paul McCartney, this journey began with Award-Winning Film Director Mark Romanek. This fellow Romanek is associated with both Paul McCartney and Jaunt, working in the role of one of their advisors. Once McCartney saw Jaunt's technology in action, he invited the crew to his next concert.

Jaunt's CEO spoke with us about how they ended up getting connected with artists like Paul McCartney in order to create the first Paul McCartney VR experience as part of their new suite of apps for Google Cardboard.

"We have the benefit of working with a remarkable board of directors and advisory team," said Christensen, "they have been tremendous in connecting us with members of the creative community, as some of them are members themselves."

"Award-Winning Film Director Mark Romanek is one of our advisors, and he was the one who connected us with Sir Paul McCartney to see a demo. After Paul saw the demo, he invited us to film him onstage at Candlestick Park."

What you're seeing above is the video your Android device will be displaying when you're connected with Google Cardboard. Once you've got your Android device planted in the Cardboard unit, you'll be seeing this interactive vision through two separate lenses, one for each eye.

The final experience makes it feel as though you're just a few feet away from Paul McCartney as he sings "Live and Let Die". The movement you see in this demonstration is based on our movement – look up and you see the dark sky, look behind you and you'll see the stage, look below and you'll see the crowd.

The clip you're seeing is just a segment of a song. Once you experience just a short amount of the experience from this perspective, you might ask yourself – why didn't they just record the whole concert?

"Music is perfectly suited for VR, which at this point is best consumed in 5-20 minute intervals," said Christensen. While they have the ability to capture entire concerts, it's not especially healthy to keep a VR headset on for extended periods of time – you do have a display just a few inches away from your eyes, after all.

"It's important to note that VR is an entirely new medium for entertainment, which means that both the content the way it is consumed are new as well." Christensen continued, "We have an incredible amount of new content in the pipeline right now which and we're looking forward to sharing it with the world. We're also working to make Jaunt experiences accessible across all platforms, from Google Cardboard to iOS, Mac and beyond so everyone can enjoy the VR experience."

The experience as it stands today has some limitations insofar as how interactive you're able to be. The concert experiences you'll see coming from Jaunt here in 2014 are filmed with cameras that sit static.

While you can look all around, you're still stuck in one place. "There is a lot of experimentation to be done in the field of cinematic VR and we're working with some of the most talented and innovative artists to explore what the future looks like," said Christensen.

"User-controlled viewpoints is one of the areas we are exploring."

Can you imagine? You'll not only be onstage with your favorite musical artist – with 3D audio, mind you – you'll also be able to select from several camera perspectives.

This experience is one we've never had before – not in the real world, anyway. Virtual Reality – through systems like Google Cardboard – allow us to step further into a world we might never have experienced otherwise.

So how much is that going to cost me, you might ask? "We will continue to release free apps for Google Play and other platforms," said Christensen. "Over time the VR content distribution model will evolve to include monetization."

You can check out the full Jaunt VR app collection on Google Play right this minute, the whole lot entirely free. If you don't already have Google Cardboard, by all means, check our recent article Google Cardboard gets serious: VR headsets for the masses or check out one of the following 3rd-party creators: DODOcase, I Am Cardboard, Knox Labs, or Unofficial Cardboard.