A group of Ryerson RTA students is trying to get audiences to put down their phones during concerts by filming it with a 360 degree camera.

Machina is a fourth-year practicum project that is creating a new, immersive way to relive concerts by using virtual reality technology to show concert footage on their online app.

Two of the creators of Machina, a student project that films 360 degree recording of concerts. Ben McCrimmon, left, and Brendan Fitzgerald. (Photo by Justin Fontaine)

“You see so many people at shows with their phones up filming, and it’s really annoying. Artists hate it. I hate it too, but I do it because I want to look back at the show and relive it,” said Brendan Fitzgerald, co-creator of Machina. Other collaborators on the project are Ben McCrimmon, Ryan Rodrigues and Gavin Massey.

When the Machina group came up with the concept last April, Ryerson didn’t have the technology that could bring the idea to life. The only option would be to use several GoPro cameras, but the group found that they would overheat after 15 minutes and turn off.

The group’s project pitch helped convince Ryerson to invest in a new $5,000 camera – the Orah 4i VR Camera. The four-sided camera records images from every side and stitches them together in a little black box. The image appears on a laptop screen in real time to show a panoramic view of the entire room. The camera itself records in 4K, but can later be viewed in 1080p, standard HD video.

To demonstrate how the technology works, Machina hosted three nights of music at different performance hot spots around Toronto. There has been a rap night, an unplugged night and next week will be rock night. At the unplugged concert on Oct. 19, Fitzgerald started off the night by greeting the intimate crowd of guests.

“Tonight we are filming using the beautiful Orah, it’s pretty cool. Moral of the story is – don’t touch it,” he said.

The camera was placed on the stage only a few feet away from the face of the performer, which gives viewers the front-row experience.

Their end goal? Music festivals.

“The dream is to pitch it to WayHome. I don’t know if you have heard of them, just a hip little party in the woods,” Fitzgerald said.

Rock night, the final show hosted by Machina, will be headlined by Goodbye Honolulu tomorrow at Lee’s Palace.


Heather Stewart is a features editor and contributor.

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