“A simple approach to immersive content, executed well.” —juror Drew Ungvarsky
“The idea uses today’s and tomorrow’s technology to take you back in time. So much more than a typical virtual reality experience.” —juror Mark Renshaw
Overview: Using Google’s Street View functionality as a key, Inside Abbey Road opens the doors of the world’s most famous recording studio to the public for the first time. Visitors to the website can roam freely around Abbey Road Studios, clicking on images and videos positioned within the site’s 3-D space to re-create the studio’s defining moments—even playing with interactive replicas of the studio’s recording equipment to compare their skills with the studio’s talented sound engineers. Naturally, the site also features a 3-D soundscape.
•The project took ten months to produce.
•The website was built using HTML5, CSS 3D, WebGL and a web audio API. The back end used Python CMS, built on the Google App Engine.
•Upon launch, the project was featured on the Google homepage.
Comments by Mark Pytlik, founding partner and CEO of Stinkdigital:
Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “We had three researchers collating and organizing more than 100 pieces of content for the site—it took thousands of photos to create the panoramas, plus hundreds of iconic photos and videos. We also had an interesting challenge tackling copyright clearance, as we were working with a number of different stakeholders on archival content. And because Abbey Road Studios is a busy, functioning recording studio, we had to prepare the studios and do the data captures around studio bookings, which meant a number of 4 a.m. starts.”
What was the thinking behind the navigational structure? “It has two modes: free roaming or guided tour. The navigation is different for each. Free roaming is about exploration through Google Street View, and everything is accessible by simply walking around or using a menu to provide a quick overview of the content available in each studio. The guided tour is a tailored, knowledge-driven guide through each studio, so the navigation is more like an audio player with different chapters, or stops. The overall experience is more passive in this mode, so the user interface is stripped back a little.”
Are there any other technical features you’d like to call attention to? “Each studio was re-created with 3-D point cloud data from a Lidar scan, a remote sensor that measures distance with a laser and reflected light. We also had a 2-D Lidar mounted on the tripod holding the camera that was capturing panoramas, so we ended up with a 2-D point cloud that shows the panoramic positions and a 3-D point cloud that reveals the whole studio. We had to align these point clouds together to get consistent 3-D positions for each panorama. We also used a recent audio API for vastly better audio support from browsers. This allowed our sound engineering gadgets, which play with mixing and filters, to be crisp and dynamic. Additionally, we were able to position sounds in the 3-D space, giving our visitors the authentic acoustics of Abbey Road Studios.”