Photo Credit to Tomorrowland
Article by Sheila Lim
Tomorrowland is definitely where all the magic happens. The iconic festival, which welcomes more than 400,000 festival goers in Boom annually, was not spared from the effects of the pandemic this year. With the cancellation of the physical event, the virtual festival took place over the weekends of July 25-26., From the seamless user experience, to impressive audio and stunning camera effects, the event unsurprisingly exceeded expectations of a digital music show and once again, proved that Tomorrowland is where all the magic comes to light.
When it comes to creating a fantasy like world, Tomorrowland has always pride itself in offering a signature out of this world experience. They reflect a metropolis that seeks to unite and bring people around the world together. Even on the holy ground itself, the festival offerings such as food and lifestyles are specially curated to give each and everyone a dream-like experience. What this digital event has achieved was an incredible feat when one factors in the amount of hard work and sweat that went behind crafting an extraordinary and user-friendly web-based experience for everyone who purchased a ticket. The cutting-edge technology and creatives behind building this ultimate virtual spectacle obviously did not come easy. Artists had to record their set on green screen studios across the world with a programmed reactive crowd that was provided by the technical team so that the DJs could feed off the energy and cheers of the crowd, which are critical for a festival set. The recording was then superimposed into the digital event to give a real-life touch.
With eight different stages across its brand new magical 3D island called ‘Papilionem’, users were treated to vibrant visuals such as beaches, mountains, forests and valleys. With easy to navigate icons and plenty of activities to immerse in just like in an actual festival, users are also able to easily keep track of the set schedule happening at each stage with countdown timers and timetables provided. Besides 3D stages and light shows, special gaming effects and filming techniques were employed to craft this immersive event that sought to mimic the actual festival as closely as possible. The most captivating features that left me in awe were the spectacular, almost too real simulations such as fireworks, lasers shows and pyros. Much to the delight of the DJs, the “crowd” were also seen raving loudly and cheering to every drop of the set, not to mention waving country flags high and proud. The DJs themselves were clearly having no trouble with building upon the energy, occasionally hopping onto the consoles for crowd control. These are distinctive features made possible in the digital space that proved Tomorrowland Around The World is not just another virtual concert recorded on Zoom during lockdown.
Watch the exclusive world premiere of Alan Walker at Tomorrowland Around the World here:
If there is anything that this show still lacks, it is the irreplaceable feeling of being in a spatial environment – the actual interaction of rubbing shoulders with like-minded music lovers in a place of unrestrained joy, soaking in the atmosphere of heat from the laser shows and basking under the spectacular fireworks to the heavy electronic beat drops when the set closes out. In addition, the visual treat of the colourful and quirky costumes donned by festival goers and the uplifting energy of festive spirit on ground are subtle yet important cues that make a music festival unique. Admittedly, these socio-spatial settings are incredibly difficult to replace in a digital show and afterall, humans are social creatures who seek the physical experience of immersing in human connection and personalized interactions.
On the whole, this digital festival is undoubtedly surreal. It calls to mind so many possibilities when it comes to web-based production and design, combining technology and music on a much larger scale that represents the future of an industry that greatly depends on live music and experiences. Especially at a devastating time like this where it is inevitable for many to feel defeated from the effects of lockdown, Tomorrowland has gifted the world much to be hopeful about by creating something so technically sophisticated yet beautiful. For the audience, the community and the artists, Tomorrowland has shown that the future of music and technology can integrate on a much deeper level and the gap between virtual and the real environment could not be closer right now.
Kudos to the team and everyone that has worked tirelessly on this impressive lockdown feat!