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A High-End Augmented Reality Tour Escorts Visitors Through The Disney Concert Hall

A lady thinks that she is a cat and takes her gloves off before dancing to an obscure tune. A group of classical musicians rehearse in the back corners and halls of a venue prior to a show. A music composer and her friend pick a glass of wine as they discuss a sci-fi writer of the 20th century.

Visitors of the Walt Disney Concert Hall will come across all the above during a fresh tour and none of these is actually real.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s Thought Experiments in F# Minor.

Thought Experiments in F# Minor was released on Friday, 1st March. It is an augmented reality (AR) experience at the glistening venue which was designed by Frank Gehry. During the forty-minute excursion, visitors are given an iPad Mini and a headset before they start following a designated path that drifts from the lobby to the parking lot underground and to the area of performance to the different balconies and pathways. During their tour, visitors encounter an unexpected wedding, dancers, unplanned drum sessions and much more.

Thought Experiments is created by the husband and wife collaboration of George Bures Miller and Janet Cardiff, and it drew its inspiration from the architecture of the building, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s short story, texts from the creators’ colleagues, and also a brutal incident that occurred in Vancouver, Canada.

Miller said that they do not call it augmented reality and it is rather a physical cinema. He added that they are not interested in going where satellites know where they are.

A visitor experiences an empty space in Disney Hall as LA Phil musicians play on video as part of the concert hall’s new sound-walk tour “Thought Experiments in F# Minor.” (Photo by Sherry Stern)

Cardiff and Miller have been developing immersive audio and video experiences for twenty years. Miller highlighted that Thought Experiments is mostly an assisted narrative and act through the venue and not the enhanced, free-flowing experience one can usually find in AR setups.

The tour is free for all and goes on through the end of L.A. Philharmonic’s May season. Most days, visitors can find 30 kits from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And they can get the headsets and iPads in Disney Hall’s main lobby.

Cardiff and Miller developed the item last fall and winter and filmed for more than 10 days. The tour starts with a user sat on a lobby bench whilst Cardiff moves forward with the narration. Her company at that point is actress Jena Malone, who is called Schroeda and believes she is a cat. Schroeda wears a creepy and a very detailed feline mask along with a fancy suit.

She weaves in and out whilst Cardiff escorts the visitors through various levels of the hall. Thought Experiments guides users in and out of the site and comes across a few unusual instances that include a wedding being photographed and a magic show by children.

The performers of L.A. Phil also pays an immersive visit. In order to create a close-to-natural experience, Miller actually recorded every sound with the help of binaural mics. They mimic the users’ ears and plays music as if they were really near the musicians.

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