Democratizing Experiences: Why We Create Immersive Media, Interactive Content, and tell stories in 360 degrees
As humans, experiences are the best chance we have to grow and stretch ourselves. I’d say this has been the case since the dawn of man. Experiences are both a lesson to be lived and a story to be told. To that end, you’ll find that experiences are the subject of Beaumonde's immersive content as well as the fuel for our creative fire.
One of the most rewarding things about our work at Beaumonde is the opportunity to immerse ourselves in unique experiences and tell the story of these adventures in a fascinating way. From music festivals to master cooking classes and art museums to organic gardens, capturing experiences in 360 degrees has fast become one of the most rewarding responsibilities in my life.
Getting this shot at Hopscotch Festival was an intoxicating moment... Caro and I ran into the venue right as Har Mar Superstar was hurtling into the peak of their final song. From the second floor entrance, Caro grabbed our 360° camera and sprinted downstairs into the center of the crowd and snapped this ridiculously epic, perfect 360° picture. If you look up on the second floor balcony you can see me standing there looking down into the maelstrom and wondering where Caro went.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m fascinated by experiences. Things like food, travel, culture, and language have always intrigued me. I was very fortunate to have parents who appreciated the importance of seeing & experiencing the world.
My first few years of school were at a Spanish immersion magnet school in my hometown of Greensboro, NC. I learned my multiplication tables in Spanish, as well as the names of colors, foods, body parts, types of clouds, and more. After school I had a Colombian tutor who taught me how to follow a saffron rice recipe in Spanish and build flat-lay papier-mâché maps of the world.
At ages 6 and 7 I visited Mexico with a group of other students and parents who wanted a chance to practice Spanish among native speakers. The kids climbed the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, saw Mexican mummies, and spent a week attending a local school where we learned traditional Mexican cooking & crafting techniques. I even beat Pokemon Red for the first time on a red-eye flight back to the US from one of these Mexican adventures. 😎
While the adults’ delightful consumption of local tequila was lost on me at the time, experiences like these continued to expand my world view throughout my formative years. Whether via Spanish immersion in elementary school, a trip to Chile in middle school, or bus trip through Europe after my freshman year of high school, the growth opportunities continued to appear. The experience of attending Choate Rosemary Hall, a preparatory boarding school in Wallingford, CT, once again threw me into a whole new world of international students, elevated expectations, and endless opportunities.
As I matured, I recognized that it was a constant evolution through experience that gave me the perspective and wherewithal to analyze the world around me and hypothesize how to make it better. If I hadn’t seen so many different facets of the world I probably wouldn't pursue my dreams quite as tenaciously. Just imagine... one day every person you know could easily access this same depth of human experience using modern storytelling technologies like VR & 360° media.
Caro and I were invited to a rooftop pop-up during Art Basel Miami Beach. Scott Storch was in attendance with his entourage, playing live piano over some of the biggest hits from the 2000s (for which he was the producer). This was a much needed break after walking several miles of the Miami Beach Convention Center. After a couple beers I worked myself up enough to hand the DJ our 360° camera for this candid shot. Bonus: can you count all the blunts in rotation?
When we tell stories with 360° content it feels like the most accessible way to share peak moments from special experiences.
Since our time as young entrepreneurs in NC State’s Arts Entrepreneurship program, my girlfriend / business partner and I have been fascinated by both the aesthetic and the experiential. Our education taught us the power of transforming artistic things into consumable experiences, both physically and digitally. Little did we realize how relevant this training would be to our future work.
As a rule, our team is excited about the future. This sentiment is embodied in our name Beaumonde, which means beautiful world in French. With 360 degree and virtual immersive media, mankind has created a completely new way to tell stories and connect with fellow humans. Plug this kind of content into social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, and we’ve now got a way to share this experiential content at scale.
I'm sure that some research out there indicates that a primary factor in expanding someone's world view is their personal experience with the world. It’s easy to misunderstand something you’ve never seen, heard, or touched in person. However when the barriers of distance are broken down, understanding comes much more easily. The plights of those less fortunate than us become more understandable, and VR immersion can build the feelings of empathy that drive actions like donations, community service, and more.
The ability to immerse ourselves in almost any experience we want opens up doors we never imagined were possible. We can take a rural third world farmer and let him fly over the highest building in the world using a 360 camera attached to a drone. We can take construction contractors and let them walk the grounds of their next project without ever needing to go on site. We can take a patient with a traumatic spinal injury and give her the experience of moving through the world on her own again.
Imagine giving your child the ability to explore countries & cultures around the world from the comfort of your own home. Through immersive media, even a parent who can’t afford international travel for their child can provide the experience of cultural immersion.
With the ability to so easily immerse ourselves in the vastness of the human experience, VR feels like a true chance to change the world by changing our perspective. As creatives and strategists, we are ready to connect people with experiences, build empathy, drive action, and use this energy as fuel to create change.
There has never been a tool in the history of mankind that can democratize experiences in the way that immersive media makes possible. In 2018, if I want to visit France I can explore the Notre Dame like I’m actually there with my smartphone and a Cardboard headset. With a headset on the experience is quite palpable.
Epic moments are worth preserving. The 360° photos below capture back-to-back years of the NC State Cypher's annual celebration. This cypher is one of the largest organic hip hop events anywhere, bringing in hundreds of students and hip hop heads from across North Carolina to the Free Expression Tunnel at NCSU every year. These photos preserve the magic of the event in a way that fans can easily connect with. Plus, they're verifiable proof that this event pops off year after year. In both shots you can see that the audience is sitting/standing literally anywhere they can get a good view, including the top of the walls!
6th Annual NC State Cypher (2016)
7th Annual NC State Cypher (2017)
One of the most fascinating things about VR content is the sense of depth that stereoscopic VR creates. (Stereo VR is fancy-talk for immersive content created specifically for a VR headset). These virtual experiences have been shown to create “first-hand” memories of experiences in our minds eye, simulating within our own mind that YES we have actually been to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Imagine how this can impact our unconscious decision making processes!
With immersive media, we can do more than show & tell. We can actually package a REAL WORLD experience and serve it hot and fresh to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world. Eventually we’ll be able to do this even without internet, via headsets with self-contained content capacity like the Oculus Go.
We can freeze time with a 360 photo, and we can capture moments in their entirety using 360° video. We can simulate experiences in VR that up until recently were unheard of. Want to feel like you're actually flying through a wormhole in 3D, only to pop up in a pink tropical forest? You can do that. Want to experience what its like to ride your bike and jump 45 feet through the air with a front flip? Go for it.
Brilliant minds will always invent new technology. Once that new tech is out in the world, a new set of different brilliant minds will need to invent news ways to use the new technology. Beaumonde is hard at work every day, passionately imagining the new ways that immersive media can tell stories both large and small. And more importantly, we are defining how we can hitch these new storytelling techniques to the engines of industry.
Since the dawn of time, man has desired fresh experiences - it’s how we grow, learn, adapt, and innovate. Experience is the true driver of innovation. Fresh perspective gives us fresh ideas, which in turn lead to new developments. With immersive media, mankind is now able to tell stories like never before and experience the vastness of the world from the comfort of their home. One thing is for sure - we are in revolutionary times for how we tell stories. Immersive virtual experiences are set to expand the personal frame of reference for every human worldwide. With this much experience at our fingertips, who knows what we will be able to imagine next?
If you see the value in VR, AR, and immersive 360 content like Beaumonde does, then holler at us. Tweet us @Hellobeaumonde or contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation.