Alcatraz – VR music experience is a virtual reality festival experience for wheelchair users.
At the Alcatraz Metal Festival, the audience experience in the mosh pit is brought to wheelchair users by means of VR glasses. A cameraman with a 360-degree camera shoots a series of images among the audience in the front stage area, which are then edited immediately. So-called ‘prison guards’ provide the wheelchair users with VR glasses, allowing them to take their place in the crowd for a while, virtually. The experience is incredibly intense, because it's impossible for them to mingle with the audience.
Alcatraz – VR music experience creates a great emotional impact with few resources in an unexpected place like a festival. The social relevance is high for wheelchair users, a group that is often overlooked. Moreover, the new VR technology is being deployed in a low-threshold way. It's time we saw more of these kinds of projects, deploying technology within a socially relevant theme.
On Alcatraz, and by extension in the whole metal community, there is a great sense of togetherness. That's why we wanted to do something for wheelchair users. For practical reasons, they find it very difficult to mingle with the audience during a performance without losing the festival experience. And at a metal festival, much of the experience is the mosh pit. That's why we wanted to bring that experience to them. VR is an excellent technology for that. If Mohammed can't go to the mountain, we'll bring the mountain to Mohammed.
We use exclusive technology for a very inclusive story, but the most important thing is to take our wheelchair users’ experience to the next level. For them, it's a very emotional experience to be among the audience and experience everything from the front row. This gives them the feeling that they totally belong there.
We are developing this further internally: we’re looking at various technologies to create an even bigger wow factor. We’re also entering into collaborations with our artists, convincing them of the concept and involving them in it. Together with them, we’re physically going to our wheelchair users to give them that experience. On the other hand, we are also looking at the development of VR and streaming technology, to offer an experience that is even more ‘live’ than what we are doing now. There is already a great deal that is possible from a technical point of view, but there’s usually a hefty price tag attached to it. We're also looking at exporting this technology to other festivals.